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Video: Tot cheerleader off squad over ‘booty’ cheer?

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    >>> now to a cheerleading controversy in michigan where a 6-year-old girl has been thrown off her team after her parents complained that one of the cheers was too risque for young girls. good morning to all of you.

    >> good morning.

    >> jennifer, remind our audience again of the lyrics to this cheer that you found so offensive and the first time that you heard it.

    >> the first time i heard it was a few weeks ago after my daughter came home from practice and she told me one of the cheers and the lyrics are, our back's fake, we shake our booties from left to right. at that point i was just kind of in shock and right away, the next day i addressed it with the coach and the general manager of the wolverines.

    >> what did they say to you.

    >> at that time the general manager was kind of like, well, we have been doing it they way for years. the coach said she really doesn't have any power, she would take it to the general manager, she would like me to address it with the general manager, but since she doesn't have any of the power, we'll see what they say. they came back the following day and at that time, she said, you know, they have been doing it that way for 20 years t board is aware, so you can either have your daughter sit out or that's it. now, she also told me that the cheers were mandated at that time by the association and they were given a list. so i said i'll take it up with your association since you're mandated by them.

    >> and so you did that?

    >> i did. i went to the association and the association, the director of cheerleading at that point told me that they're not mon dated, they don't mandate cheers at all and that she would talk to the general manager of the cheerleader for the wolverines.

    >> sounds like you're going around in circles here, jennifer.

    >> yes.

    >> did you ever call another parent of a child on the cheerleading squad who said we think they're okay?

    >> the last talk before i had with the general manager of cheerleading we talked to a few of the parents and they didn't like the cheer as well. so i had gone back to the general manager after i had talked to the association and i told -- you know, we told her that some of the parents don't like it and her response was at that time the board was aware, they have been doing this cheer for about 20 years and that was it. and after insinuating that, you know, me and my husband were thinking were kind of perverse in thinking it was incorrect or inappropriate, that's when we got mad.

    >> so that's when you went to the media?

    >> after a couple of weeks yes.

    >> and that's when people got really crazy and you were notified that your daughter was being thrown off the team, out of the league and couldn't reapply next year if she wanted to or try out for another league?

    >> the result was they were going to keep the cheer, the coach could decide whether she does it or not because she does have that power, but ultimately because of the drama that we have created about this, she was going to remove the family from the organization for the year.

    >> kennedy, honey, do you understand why you're not being allowed to cheer anymore? do you like cheerleading?

    >> yeah.

    >> you like it? mom, let me ask you, are you going to continue to fight this or at this point is the story over for you?

    >> at this point, you know, i don't even think that i could continue to fight it. they removed us from the organization, i don't think i have any way to fight that. and at that point, i don't know that i would ever want to go back anyway, because if they think it's okay to remove a 6-year-old from the team, i wouldn't want my daughter in that organization anyway. you know, a lot of people have reached out, a couple of teams have also reached out as well which is great. and we're talking gymnastics, so i wish they would acknowledge what they did to her was incorrect.

    >> thank you so much. we'll be right back after this.

By
TODAY contributor
updated 9/17/2010 12:25:54 PM ET 2010-09-17T16:25:54

A Detroit-area mom’s objections over a booty-shaking cheer got her 6-year-old daughter booted right off the cheerleading squad — and touched off a nasty war of words that’s pitted Jennifer Tesch against an intricate web of local authorities.

As sports cheers go, “Our backs ache, our skirts are too tight, we shake our booties from left to right!” isn’t likely to make Chris Rock blush. But when Tesch’s daughter Kennedy came home after practicing with her Madison Heights Wolverines cheerleading squad and demonstrated the routine, her mom was taken aback.

“I was in shock, and right away I addressed it with the coach and the general manager of the Wolverines,” Tesch told Meredith Vieira live from Michigan on TODAY Friday.

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Looking for answers
A former cheerleader and cheerleading coach herself, Tesch didn’t think the cheer was appropriate for a 6-year-old. But when she voiced her objections, she received what she believes was the classic runaround.

“The general manager was kind of like, ‘Well, we’ve been doing it that way for years and that’s the way it’s going to be,’” Jennifer Tesch said as she sat with Kennedy, her husband Duane, and their youngest child, Aiden.

Video: Tot cheerleader off squad over ‘booty’ cheer? (on this page)

She then approached the squad’s coach, who told Tesch she “didn’t really have any power,” and to take it up again with the general manager. So Tesch met with the general manager and coach again, who told her the Wolverines’ governing board was aware of her concerns, but that the cheer was mandated by the state’s cheerleading association.

But upon talking to the association’s director, Tesch said she was left scratching her head. “[They] told me that they don’t mandate cheers at all, and she would talk to the general manager of the Wolverines,” she told Vieira.

TODAY
Ousted cheerleader Kennedy Tesch (second from left) appeared on TODAY with her family.

‘That’s when we got mad’
At that point, things got testier. Tesch said she sounded out a few other parents, who agreed the cheer seemed racy for a 6-year-old to be chanting. The board told Tesch she could opt to have her daughter sit out that particular cheer, but it also delivered some stinging words.

“Their response was they’ve been doing this cheer for 20 years, and that was it,” Tesch said. “And after insinuating that my husband and I were kind of perverse for thinking it was incorrect and inappropriate, that’s when we got mad.”

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Tesch took her story to the local media, and within two days, the cheerleading higher-ups, along with some parents, became so irate over the brouhaha that Kennedy was removed from the squad, which cheers for local little league flag football.

“The ultimate result was they were going to keep the cheer; the coach could decide whether she does it or not,” Tesch told Vieira. “But because of the drama that we created about this, [the board] was going to remove the family from the organization for the year.”

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Coach fires back
The Cheerleading Wars continued to escalate. The team’s coach, Lisa Ernest, went on a local morning radio show program and blasted Tesch. “I’m directly quoting this lunatic,” Ernest said of Tesch. “She said, ‘I don’t mind the booty-shaking so much, but it’s the back aching and the skirt being too tight I don’t understand.’ ”

Tesch told NBC that she naturally feels bad for her daughter, who finds herself on the outside looking in at one of her favorite activities: “They broke her heart,” Tesch said. And she had to explain to her daughter that folks were mad at Mommy, not her, and that the squad “really liked her and she was not being punished.”

She added that the family has received loads of support via phone and Facebook for standing up for their beliefs, and two other teams have offered to put Kennedy on their cheerleading squads. But for now, the family is considering putting Kennedy into a gymnastics program instead.

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As far as getting Kennedy back on the Wolverines cheerleading squad, Tesch said that ship has sailed. “I don’t think I would ever want to go back, because ultimately, if they think it’s OK to remove a 6-year-old from a team, I wouldn’t want my daughter in that organization anyway,” she said.

But she would like an apology.

“I just wish that they would acknowledge that what they did to [Kennedy] was incorrect,” Tesch told Vieira.

‘Where does it stop?’
Still, some local parents were clearly peeved about Tesch pushing for the racy cheer to be discontinued: Dad Ron Messig told Fox 2 TV in Detroit the issue “really comes down to what one person wants against what everybody else wants.” But Tesch found a staunch supporter for her actions in TODAY’s Kathie Lee Gifford.

Video: Kathie Lee and Hoda address ‘booty’ cheer controversy

Speaking with co-anchor Hoda Kotb during TODAY’s fourth hour Friday, Gifford said the cheer is not only inappropriate for a 6-year-old; she didn’t believe it was even appropriate for her 17-year-old daughter, Cassidy.

“Where does it stop?” Gifford said. “It’s the sexualization of our young females from an earlier and earlier [age]. When do parents lose our rights to raise children according to the values that we think are important?”

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When Kotb told Gifford her school cheerleading squad actually had a very similar, though less lurid, cheer, Gifford said those kinds of cheers didn’t exist “in the 1800s when I was a cheerleader. It was sis-boom-bah, rah-rah! It’s, little by little, the choices that we’re making that’s deteriorating our culture as whole.”

Gifford was also incensed that cheerleading coach Lisa Ernest called Tesch a “lunatic” in a radio interview, saying she “sounds like Jane Lynch from ‘Glee’.”

“Something should happen,” Gifford said. “It was completely uncalled for.”

 

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