So long, Magic Dancers.
You did your job and you did it well, but your time has passed.
Which is why the Orlando Magic announced earlier this week that they are having open tryouts for a new hip-hop dance team that will be made up of both women - and men.
Because the Magic and a few other progressive teams are starting to realize that having all-women dance teams shaking, shimmying and gyrating for the entertainment of a mostly male fan base seems a bit sexist.
It's the same reason that most colleges have done away with their groups of attractive female recruiting hostesses, which used to actually have names like the Bama Belles, the Bengal Babes, the Gator Getters and the Hurricane Honeys.
We are finally and thankfully reaching a point in today's "Me Too" world when it is becoming unfashionable for both college and professional teams to objectify women for the viewing pleasure of male audiences.
That said, the thing I always loved about the Magic Dancers is they weren't just talented dancers, but they were hard-working and valuable to the organization. They didn't just entertain fans during timeouts, they visited hospitals, went overseas and visited the troops and did loads of charity work. This community outreach will still continue with the new coed hip-hop dance team that will be called "The 407."
"The new performance team will build on the 30-year tradition of the Magic Dancers and execute professional routines at Orlando Magic games, while making appearances and continuing our tradition of community service," said Magic Entertainment Teams Manager Jeanine Klem-Thomas.
It's no secret that all-female dance teams became popular at professional sporting events mainly because of the scantily clad Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, who didn't lead cheers so much as they aroused male fans. These all-female "cheerleading" squads and dance teams at professional sporting events essentially were started to provide eye candy for guys at games.
Several NFL cheerleaders and NBA dance team members have gone public about the sexual harassment they are expected to endure from fans. As the New York Times reported last year, these women are often classically trained dancers in ballet, jazz, modern, hip-hop and tap, but "they quickly learn that performing at sporting events is only a small part of their job description. They are also required to fulfill what often is the unsavory side of the job: interacting with fans at games and other promotional events, where groping and sexual harassment are common."
Don't kid yourself, the Magic and other sports teams are reacting to some of this negative publicity. Just last season, for instance, the Spurs did away with their all-female dance team and replaced it with a "35-member co-ed Spurs hype team" featuring "unique family-friendly talents, including tumbling, acrobatics, dance and stunts."
Good for the Spurs, the Magic and many other teams for reacting and realizing it's time to modernize and move away from the archaic idea of provocative all-women dance teams. Let's face it, there are a lot of men who are great dancers, too, and deserve to be showcased at sporting events.
One of the things I absolutely love about college sporting events is how the male and female cheerleaders work in unison to provide an aesthetic combination of strength, grace, artistic and acrobatic ability.
So long, Magic Dancers.
You were great in your day, but your day has passed.
It's time for a new, enlightened dance number that starts with "The 407."
ABOUT THE WRITER
Mike Bianchi is a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel.
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