Today is the Superbowl, which Agent Triple P has been watching live on TV now for a rather staggering 25 years. American Football (as it's known over here to distinguish it from real football, which involves a round ball and, of course, using your feet) became quite popular in the eighties in the UK when Channel 4 started to show it. That peak of interest has died down somewhat, possibly because it was always a bit low rent compared with the extravaganzas seen on TV. At one point London had a number of teams: The London Ravens (Triple P and Agent DVD actually went to watch one of their games once), the Heathrow Jets and the Stock Exchange (later the City) Stags. Indeed, when Triple P worked at Lloyd's of London he was invited to sign up for a Lloyd's team, given that he had been a county class sprinter in his younger days. The team never got enough recruits to get going, sadly, so his live football fix was confined to the demonstration pre-season games the NFL organised at Wembley Stadium in the eighties. We went to four of these American Bowls, as they were called, and saw: Chicago Bears v Dallas Cowboys in 1986 (Refridgerator mania hit London when William Perry arrived), LA Rams v Denver Broncos in 1987, Miami Dolphins v San Francisco 49ers in 1988 and Philadelphia Eagles v Cleveland Browns in 1989. We eventually got to our first US game in December 2009 in Philadelphia.
Now, now, we're having none of that
So, tonight we will stay up until the early hours of the morning, eating unhealthy food and drinking beer to watch Pittsburgh against Green Bay and enjoy all the razzmatazz, replays, endless advert breaks and, of course, the cheerleaders. Oh, except that this is going to be the first Superbowl in history with no cheerleaders. This is ironic, considering the game is being played at the Dallas Cowboys stadium given that Dallas' cheerleaders are the most iconic in the game. Neither Pittsburgh nor Green Bay have tcheerleaders. It's mostly to do with the weather in their home towns, of course, but both teams had them in the past.
Packers' cheerleaders in 1986
Green Bay's cheerleaders have gone through several incarnations over the years. The Packers were actually one of the first teams to use cheerleaders back in 1931. There first proper squad (as opposed to using college squads) were called, with enormous originality the Green Bay Packerettes who were formed in the 1950s and were in action until 1961 when they were re-named the Golden Girls. They became the Packerettes again in 1973 and then the Green Bay Sideliners in 1977. This, the last professional Green Bay squad was disbanded in 1988. Green Bay do still have cheerleaders for home games when the weather is mild and these are drawn from two local colleges; University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and Norbert's College. They won't be going to the Superbowl, however.
The Steelerettes in 1969
Pittsburgh had cheerleaders for less than ten years from 1961 until 1969. They were called, yes, the Steelerettes. Their outfits were incredibly modest and of course latterly they were perfoming right at the height of the popularity of the miniskirt. The cheerleading captain apparently pointed this out to Art Rooney Sr, the Steelers owner, and also said that the Dallas Cowgirls had far more revealing outfits. Rooney thought about this for a while and then decided the best soloution was to sack all the cheerleaders. He didn't approve of immodest outfits! The Rooney family believe that cheerleaders are an unnecessary distraction and block fans view of the field.
Stop blocking the view!
Agent Triple P had a girlfriend (from England), once, who had attended a US school and was in their cheerleading squad. Her outfit had, as a constituent item, the tiniest shorts Triple P had ever seen. She could still get into them, just, eight years later and maybe the Rooneys are right because they were extremely distracting. One of her friends, who she had been at university with, went to work at a college in the US at this time. Next time she saw us in England she was very dismissive of US womens college sport. She had been an active sportswoman at university: hockey, athletics, swimming, canoeing etc. However, she said that she had found sport for women in the US was all about standing on the sidelines and going "rah-rah" rather than actually doing it. She found the whole thing sexist and depressing.
Not as depressing, perhaps, as a cheerleader-free Superbowl so let's just hope it is a good game and not one of those Superbowl blow-outs. We can't say we care much about the teams either way so we will watch it with an open mind and a lot of tortilla chips!