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The Boston Herald
Bring it on!
That was the feeling among Patriots fans at Gillette Stadium yesterday as dancing male cheerleaders get ready to groove this football season for the first time in NFL history.
There hasn't been any men on the Patriots cheerleading team in decades but two men plan to be among the dancing cheerleaders rooting for the Los Angeles Rams this season. Another man is set to dance with the cheerleaders for the New Orleans Saints.
Guy NFL cheerleaders are nothing new, but this is the first time they'll be dancing. More than two dozen men are on the Baltimore Ravens' cheerleading squad and male cheerleaders rooted for the Pats in the 1980s.
Pats fans young and old, male and female, told me they'd embrace men dancing alongside their beloved team's cheerleaders.
"It's good that people are breaking out of stereotypical gender roles," said Anna Lessard, 14. "It paves the way. Right now, probably, boys are looking at the football players and not the cheerleaders. But if there's men cheerleaders, they might think, 'Hey it's OK to also be a dancer.' "
Anna and her family are huge Pats fans despite moving to Germany from Sharon three years ago. They watch the games live at all hours overseas.
"It makes no difference to me," said Anna's father, Joel Lessard, 43. "Maybe the male dancers bring something new."
Wendy Murphy, an attorney and victims' rights activist, was a Pats cheerleader in 1984, the season before the team played in its first Super Bowl. At the time, men were on the cheerleading squad, Murphy said, and they did gymnastics but didn't dance.
Murphy "absolutely supports" adding men to the dancing cheerleading squads.
"Having men doing exactly the same thing as women will help to take the sting out of the feeling that I have about it today," Murphy told me, "which is that it's really become a highly sexualized and more-exploitive-than-ever-before form of entertainment, largely for men who are drinking heavily."
Murphy said the year she was a Pats cheerleader was the last time men were on the squad. The owners at the time, the Sullivan family, dismantled the squad at the season's end after a female cheerleader was injured, Murphy said.
Patriots cheerleading director Tracy Sormanti declined comment. Pats spokesman Stacey James said men have tried out for the cheerleading team in past years and inquired about it as recently as this year. "We've never said men aren't allowed," James said.
Mary Fasoli brought her grandsons, Nick Schwartz, 11, and Joe Schwartz, 13, of Braintree, to the Patriots ProShop. "If you want to have a career as a male cheerleader, I would say go live your dream," Joe said.
Brian Fisk, 65, was picking out jewelry for his "superfan" wife, Susanne Murphy. "Sure, why not?" Fisk said. "It will give the women something to look at."
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