Please get rid of the Celtic Dancers
I am a longtime season ticket holder, veteran basketball coach, fan, husband, and father. With the eye of an instructor to (mostly) adult players, and from our seats directly behind the visitors’ bench, I watch the opposing coach(es) and study the moves of the players on the floor. Game in and game out, there is on display the intelligence and athleticism and dedication of the players, the hard work of the coaching staffs. I’m a former longtime college coach who was dedicated to that game, meaning the college game, but, really, the best basketball in the world is in the NBA. Brad Stevens has the Celtics playing hard. They are bought in. The games are close and competitive. It’s great to watch the games.
Still, there is something missing for me. It’s simple and sad: I wish I could bring my daughter who loves basketball to the games. But I can’t. I just don’t know how I can bring an impressionable five-year-old girl to the games when the Celtics (and all NBA teams) demean women and negatively impact girls of all ages by insisting on including in the program barely clad, pelvic-thrusting, butt spanking, hair-flying, out-of-rhythm undulating, on the floor writhing, porn-straddling, quote-unquote dancers. It is ridiculous and embarrassing and completely unoriginal. Honestly, how am I, or any father or mother, supposed to sit there with my daughter, our daughters (and sons) and watch that? What message is my daughter going to take from it?
She loves to watch players dribble, shoot, pass, steal the ball. She can dribble already with either hand and doesn’t look at the ball. She’s proud of this. Yet I can’t take her to these games to see the best practitioners of this skill in person.
Imagine I am at TD Bank Garden. Celtics are playing, say, the Cleveland Cavaliers. You know: LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving. Crazy talent. Awesome basketball game. Interesting on about 40 different levels. Dazzling to a child. And then the Celtics Dancers come on. My daughter, my sweet impressionable kindergartner who, in addition to playing ball, likes to dress-up as a princess every now and then, is staring at the women, grownup girls, who are on the floor, literally on the floor, half butt-naked, in front of a sold-out crowd. I wanted to bring my daughter to see the best basketball in the world and I am sitting there feeling like I will have to answer to the Department of Social Services. It’s porn.
It’s not that a five-year-old wouldn’t be drawn in to the flash and noise of the “family entertainment” on full display. My question is how do I explain the Celtics Dancers? That men like that? That women like to act like that so men will like them? In public? In front of 18,624 people?
There are so many other halftime entertainment options: kids’ drum corps, musicians, skilled athletes from other endeavors, acrobats, leprechauns, and real dancers from all our neighborhoods and all walks of life. Why can’t you choose these? There are enough other awful things to explain about life: war and death and meanness of all kinds. Why must you add another?
What does this display have to do with basketball? Better question: What does this have to do with the attitude of men toward women?
Oh look, here is the answer made evident by watching: Women are objects, pieces of meat, and what’s wrong with slapping around or knocking out a piece of meat every now and then? Right, Ray Rice? What do you say, Jason Kidd? Connect the dots, Celtics ownership.
Another question: Do the Celtics have such little faith in the product they put on the floor during games that they feel they must peddle porn during time-outs? The tepid applause after the dancers leave the floor ought to be instructive.
In February 2004, Red Auerbach said, “They’re just waiting for me to die so they can get cheerleaders”. He was so right (though cheerleaders would be an improvement on what you have now). You waited until Red was dead. And the dancers writhe all along the spot on the floor where it says Red Auerbach. Nice.
So finally, what should I say to my daughter when she stares out on the court and sees a bunch of young women who are there to peddle the sexual aspect of their bodies, and nothing more? That’s life? That’s what important, smart, rich men think you and the world need? If the Celtics ownership had any vision or wisdom or heart or, frankly, balls, they’d step up and be the first to get rid of the dancers; have it be about basketball and teamwork and hard work and fun rooting for the home team for everyone, little girls and boys and their dads and moms included.