The UF cheerleaders may be cute and charming, but their bark isn’t worse than their bite.
Outraged and spirited tweets circled the Twitter realm in response to a standing decision: the University Athletic Association’s marketing department has banned UF cheerleaders from performing aerial stunts and not even allowing them to speak to the press. Instead, Twitter is their outlet.
The decision came Friday, following an Orlando Magic cheerleading incident that happened last Tuesday. The cheerleader, Jamie Woode, now has three vertebrae fractures and a broken rib. And the aftereffects have now made its way to Gainesville.
The tweets flooded in Friday evening as UF cheerleaders made sure their voice was heard. All five seniors weren’t allowed to tumble or perform stunts on senior day. Morgan Palmer, a senior cheerleader, wasn’t happy.
“This is unreal. This is unreal. This is not happening. This did not just happen. We know what we do is risky and that there is a ‘one in a million chance we might get hurt’ but that’s why we practice. #UngroundUFCheer”
Other UF athletics members and fans have supported this tweeting trend as well. UF boosters, including the Rowdy Reptiles, have even joined the protest. Brent Pease, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Florida Gators football team, tweeted Saturday:
“If our cheerleaders can’t air it out, we won’t either. #UngroundUFCheer” (@CoachBrentPease)
Trending and tweeting #UngroundUFCheer has caught the UAA’s attention. Later today the association and UF cheerleaders will meet to see if any of the decisions can be compromised, said ex-cheerleader Nicole Marchand.
Marchand, who cheered from 2005 to 2007, said that the UAA sent an email stating that stunting and tumbling wasn’t worth the risk to the cheerleaders and to the association.
“They work so hard. These girls have been cheering for 15 years or more. They are very well prepared for the games,” she said, “There’s things that (they) do to prevent this from happening.”
Injuries are part of playing sports, Marchand said. It happens all the time in football. For comparison, over the last decade there haven been 39 deaths in football and only one in cheerleading, said Jason Merhslich, a former Gators cheerleader from 2003-2007. He said that he was shocked when the cheeerleaders sent texts about the decision.
“It seems like a complete overreaction to the Orlando Magic (cheering team),” Merslich said. “UF abides by strict safety guidelines.”
He also thinks that people are going to miss out on the atmosphere that the stunts and tumbling bring to each sporting event. It has been a UF tradition for over four decades.
“The cheerleaders know the risk,” Marchand said. “It’s not a rational decision (by the UAA).”
There will be an update after the meeting this afternoon.