The leaves are changing here, I can hear the marching bands practice on the field across the street. When the lights come on, sometimes I walk up the hill and look at all the pageantry on the football field. The Cheerleaders here have bright orange as one of their colors. Bright Orange - a warning color - is that a future for guys who cheer too? I was at my 30th high school reunion, and someone had found old, film footage of our pep rally and highlights of our surprise run to become Illinois State High School Basketball champions in 1980. One of the best things was two of our football players joining the cheerleaders with their wild acrobatic moves. Title X has killed a lot of male gymnastic programs now, so if you love to throw your body through the air with impossible twists - and are male, you have cheer leading and the circus- right? So how does Just Say NO figure in here. In the 1980's it was a catchphrase, not always appreciated, but we knew what no meant. NO meant stop, don't start, period. I heard it from parents and teachers all the time. No one in authority wanted to be my friend back then, just my respect for them - and then they for me. That became the basis for a lot of great relationships. A young man, 11, in Ohio has learned the hard way, that no is a thought in short supply. When I cheered and when I was in the stands, cheering NO NO NO, WE WON'T GO, had power. "Hey Hey Hey, let's have a happy day" just has no power. As a kid, I knew there were big no's, things you just didn't do - and a little tease, OK, but to the point of hurting, physically hurting someone, that was a no. When a girl broke up with you, no was no, no stalking. No, it cost too much meant save or choose something you could afford, not just open a charge account. No was a border, a baseline to turn you toward another course. I learned NO first from my parents and then my teachers. It was not fun, it was disappointing, sometimes it made me angry. It taught me there are rules, things you just DO NOT DO. It gave me a base to stand on and build on. Now, do parents still say NO, or do we bargain and avoid and worry over having to say that to our children? Do they know, from parents words and actions, that there are things that are off limits, things you NEVER do, things that are WRONG?
No, that is probably not the case for a lot of young people. No's early hurt, but they teach, dealing with them moves one toward maturity.
Who tells this generation what NO means?
To the young man in Ohio, I hope you cheer loud and proud, I hope you can do a back-flip soon. I hope when you have a cheer with NO everyone understands.
Gonna Stop NO
Gonna Fight ON
YEAH YEAH YEAH
Rebekah ( Cheerleader in 1976 )