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Kentucky Wildcats Morning Quickies: UK Cheerleading Edition

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Dear UK cheerleading team: The 1970’s called, and would like their debauchery back.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kentucky vs UCLA Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation, and welcome to the Tuesday Morning Quickies.

Let’s see, what is there to talk about today? Oh, look, there is a big story on the 24-time national champion UK cheerleading team. It seems, according to a University of Kentucky investigation, that the team allegedly raided the 1970’s fraternity scene for a little debauchery, drunkenness, and hazing.

How nice.

The Lexington Herald-Leader has details here, and what seems clear to me is that a) the coaches and assistants did indeed turn a blind eye to the misbehavior and b) not all the cheerleaders participated to the same degree. That suggests this was pretty much in line with my experiences both in the United States Navy (fellow Shellbacks will know what I mean) and as a member of a fraternity during the height of Animal House popularity — participation in “hazing” of this sort was voluntary.

To 1970’s/80’s Glenn, this looks like a little harmless college fun. However, 2020 Glenn, now thoroughly steeped in the New Puritanism and zero-tolerance college scene of the late 20th and early 21st century, the alleged conduct is appalling and worthy of censure.

While I often lament the changes in college culture since my days as a student, I also see the positive side of it. My particular fraternity at Western has undergone a very positive change and produced a vastly superior graduation rate, community and charitable engagement, and positive contribution to the overall university and Greek culture. Given the vast debt most students must accumulate to obtain a degree these days, I’d say a more serious and dedicated attitude is an unalloyed good thing, and that would seem to apply equally to those students engaged in various forms of athletics.

Times change. Cultures change. When they do, traditions must also change when they run into conflict with modern codes of conduct. If the allegations are true, the UK cheerleading team preserved and continued a decades-old culture that ran afoul of modern expectations and university conduct codes. I think the firing of the coaches was justified based on what has been reported, and hopefully there is no other conduct alleged more nefarious than underage drinking or indecent exposure.

But the culture surrounding UK cheerleading must now move into the 21st century. Besides, the 1970’s called and would like their debauchery back.

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My feeling is that some did, some didn’t on a voluntary basis. Young people aren’t exactly known for perfect impulse and hormone control, at least not in my experience.

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