Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hate Mail From Cheerleaders

Considering my love for cheerleading (Yes, I know, I'm 27... it's time to move on... Not. Ready. Yet.), you would think I would be anti-Rick Reilly. He did name one of his books Hate Mail From Cheerleaders after all.

The story behind the title is told in the first few pages of the book...
Well, when I first started writing the Sports Illustrated column every week, I did one on cheerleading. I said, "Cheerleading's not a sport! There are 10 or 11 sports for girls at every high school. If you want to play a sport, get in between the lines and play a real sport! But wearing a circle skirt and a tight sweater and facing away from the field going, '2-4-6-8' is not a sport." Well, this went over like anthrax brownies. We broke a record for hate mail on it, but hate mail from cheerleaders really isn't bad at all. It's sort of like getting pelted with rolls of scented Charmin. It's always on pastel paper and usually includes a picture of the squad. And they write, "I hope you die" with a little heart over the "i". His words, not mine. I may or may not have been one of the cheerleaders that wrote him...

Now ladies, don't stop reading just because this is a post about sports because I'm about to teach you a very important lesson! My father taught me this little nuggets of wisdom when I was in elementary school and it has come in super handy... Picture this:

My dad and I are sitting on the bar stools in the kitchen and he starts drawing X's and O's all over a piece of paper. I'm wearing a very big hair bow. (That part is just fyi, not really significant to the story)

I'm thinking tic-tac-toe is about start and I'm pumped.

I readjust in the seat so that I can sit on my knees, I have to make sure I can see everything so dad doesn't cheat (And some people wonder where I get my competitive nature...).

Just as I'm about to write "Raegan - Daddy - Cat" he tells me this isn't a game, this is something very important he wants to teach me.

I'm listening but I'm a little disappointed about the tic-tac-toe.

Class begins.

"Raegan, Boys (Note I was in elementary school at the time of this lesson... now substitute the word "men." If you are confused, yes, there is a difference) love girls who can talk sports. You don't have to know every statistic, team, or player, you just need a few chunks of info and then enough wisdom to keep your mouth shut."

He goes on to teach me about the X's and O's. 

Now, 20 years later, after trying this method time and time again and finding that it works every stinking time, I have come to this conclusion: My father is a genius.

My dad and I playing air hockey in Poland... Confession: He won.

This is where Rick Reilly comes in... Whether you are a sports fan or not, everyone will agree that ol' Rick is HI-LARIOUS. His writing is witty and typically a little back-handed. His sarcasm comes through his typed out words with perfect delivery. Occasionally he'll write about a sports character I'm not familiar with (typically a golfer... because who cares to learn their names?) and even though I don't have a flippin' clue who he is talking about, I'll still be laughing when I'm done AND I'll know just enough to be able to comment on a hot sports topic and then shut my mouth. Trust me, this method works... Husbands love it, Boyfriends think it's awesome, Want-to-be-Boyfriends fall for it! I promise, you'll thank me for this later...

In my line of work, people expect us to know everything about every sport - pro, college, even high school! And as much as I love to watch Sports Center, I'm not tuning in every single night, nor do I have the app on my phone (although I probably should) so I still lean on the old method. Skim the headlines, watch the news and always read Rick Reilly. When someone brings up something I don't know anything about, I'll say, "Did you see ___________? What are your thoughts on that?" and then shut your mouth. Now don't get lazy, read the whole article because you might have to throw a comment in here and there, but typically the guy (who actually DOES know all about every statistic, team and player) will take over the conversation and you're good to go! Works like a charm!

So with the Super Bowl right around the corner... You should probably read this: Eli Manning Up. Eli and the Giants will be going head to head with the New England Patriots on February 5th, and now you're game day ready.

Or, if you were only a football fan when Tim Tebow was playing, you'll LOVE this: Believing in Tim Tebow. I don't care who you, there is no denying that Tebow is a genuinely good guy.

Or, if you could totally care less about sports, but love a feel-good story (think Extreme Home Makeover or maybe a good Lifetime Movie), well Rick covers those too. Check this one out: The Parade of Life. It's about a float in the Rose Bowl Parade dedicated to organ donors. Good ol' tear jerker!

Rick Reilly stories are wonderful - he'll make you hate your All-Star hero and fall in love with some bench warmer you've never heard of. He is not afraid to call the punks in sports bullies, but he will also be happy to point out the good guys. He wrote an awesome story on Oklahoma City's own Kevin Durant last February... Kevin and the Copywriter. Good stuff, huh?

So if you want to read more, you can view Rick Reilly's archives on ESPN.com or by clicking here. You should probably bookmark it for future reference. Hope you guys enjoy Rick's work as much as I do! And don't worry, I'll tell my dad you said thank you...

Be Blessed!


  1. That is such a cute story about you and your dad. I am sure your knowledge of sports has come in handy quite a few times! :)



  2. Ha, thanks for the tip on the author. It's a little late for me to employ the "learn enough sports to be able to have a semi-intelligent conversation" strategy to impress a guy, but I will consider passing the information onto my daughters. Weird confession--I read Scott's Car and Driver magazines bc the writing is excellent and funny. I even kept them in my classroom for my students when I taught. I'm sure the guy is hilarious, but as a former cheer sponsor/coach (whatever title it was they attached to my English teaching job),I disagree with him--cheerleading IS a sport.