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A Cheerleader’s Response to Rick Bozich’s Column About Cheerleaders

Is it 2020?

I must have forgotten, or been taken back in time when reading Rick Bozich’s column regarding the University of Kentucky cheerleading program’s dismissal of four coaches earlier today. Today is a sad day for the program and the sport (yes, the sport) of cheerleading and it is only exacerbated by Bozich’s out of touch and misogynistic response.

Mr. Bozich, you obviously don’t know the first thing about cheerleading if you are comparing UK’s 24 national cheerleading titles to sideline dancers at NFL or NBA events. A quick YouTube search could bridge the gap for you.

Even worse, you choose to describe female athletes as “smutty,” “titillating,” “underdressed,” “overexposed,” opining that their only purpose is “sex appeal.” You use this kind of derogatory language against women who spend hours upon hours in the gym perfecting the “five seconds” of “bumping and grinding” they are so entitled, in your opinion, to receive. As we all know, their hard work should take a backseat to the real purpose: the real athletes for which they cheer.

I should understand my place as a “sideshow,” you say.

I should understand it because I myself have spent my college career as a Division-1 cheerleader, spending the last 15 years of my life dedicated to those five seconds he reduces to a distraction.

Conveniently met Coach Cal at GW Congressional Basketball Fundraiser. Spent my whole life in KY, never met the man until I moved to DC. Figures.

I should resign to my fate of being a source of pure entertainment, as if all sports were not intended to be entertaining. No, every other sport is essential. But cheerleading? It should be a bunch of pretty girls for the big men to look at; little girls screeching their team on to victory. But, they shouldn’t be too pretty! It would be too exciting for the audience, and may even distract them from the main event. Wouldn’t that be a travesty? To recognize hard, athletic work that a team has strived for? To celebrate successes of young people? However, as you says, no one actually shows up to watch the cheerleaders, so what should it even matter?

I have never met a cheerleader with a torn ACL, concussion, broken hand or hands (yes hands, as resulted from a gymnastics collision I unfortunately found myself a part of) from bumping and grinding. I have seen these injuries, however, from women and men who have collided with other cheerleaders, been dropped out of a pyramid three people high onto either a one-inch mat or the arena floor. That’s at least a 15-foot drop. Without padding or helmets. Or from landing a tumbling pass so hard that they shatter their ankle and complete a routine anyways, because as my coach has always said, cheerleading doesn’t have a bench. We need every player, all the time.

Watch one episode of Cheer on Netflix, Mr. Bozich. I would like a running count of all of the bumping and grinding that occurs.

This is not just about the University of Kentucky’s esteemed cheerleading program, the members of which he (falsely) accuses of being scantily clad. The last time I checked, they have worn the almost exact same uniform for the last 30 years.

This is about all cheerleaders, at all levels, dealing with the same stereotypes surrounding all women in sports (think Serena Williams being recognized for her tennis dresses rather than her play, or the median WNBA salary being $130K) .

However, in spite of their well demonstrated abilities, cheerleaders have to fight to even call themselves an athlete. Cheerleaders are at the bottom of the food chain, even in women’s sports.

I could continue to discuss the disrespect cheerleaders have received through the years, the ignorance some sports fans have towards these men and women who begin their careers usually at around age 3-5, and continue it into their 20s. This is their lives, and livelihood. It is my life, and livelihood. It is just as passionate and requires just as much dedication as any other NCAA sport, although it is not recognized as such, which deserves a separate conversation.

I have to pose the question: why are cheerleaders only recognized for their shortcomings? They are only held to the same standard as other sports for their mistakes, not for their successes, only creating headlines when there is negativity to be spread.

Why did it have to come to this for cheerleaders to be newsworthy? I am in full agreement that cheerleaders should be held to the same standard as other athletes. But, this means cheerleaders should be treated as such in all manners, not only when they mess up.

What happened today is a tragedy for the University of Kentucky; however, what continues to happen each day for the women and men who participate in cheerleading, as Bozich has proudly put on display, is sickening. I can only hope that his bitterness towards these college student athletes will shed some light on the discrimination against cheerleaders and dancers, and more particularly, the hard feelings those of certain generations harbor towards women within cheerleading.

Oh yes, and if I could provide one final correction to Mr. Bozich’s enlightening column: he claims there has never been a representative at the Olympics, among other major sporting events, for cheerleading.

I seem to recall that there was one, at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

It was the University of Kentucky.

Article written by Abbigale Harrison

Covering KY news from DC. This should be fun. Twitter: @theabbiharrison

71 Comments for A Cheerleader’s Response to Rick Bozich’s Column About Cheerleaders

  1. jwhit80
    9:11 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    Great response to that clown!

    • TonyMontana
      9:57 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      Quite frankly it’s one of the best articles I’ve read on KSR this century.

    • UKFaninCO
      9:51 am May 19, 2020 Permalink


    • unbridled
      10:15 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      Agreed to y. That young woman can convey thought to word beautifully. Seems that in short supply these days.

  2. JASUN74
    9:29 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    Get him girl! He deserved everything he’s getting and more. I agree with 100% that cheerleading Takes as much or more dedication and training as any other sport and both my sisters have had broken bones and scares to prove how dangerous it is. The time these ATHLETES put in and all the traveling is more than anyone could imagine. I played Basketball my whole life, and I guarantee the cheerleaders were putting in just as much time as I was to get better at their sport.

    While i think they should’ve just suspended the coaches today and had them take some kind of training on the rules or whatever, I still guess they had to do something. College kids and especially college athletes put so much time into training and working their butts off while still going to school, I can certainly see them wanting to unwind and have a great time with their team/friends/family!!

    It is what it is, I just hope it doesn’t ruin the coach’s reputation too long and they can make a living. Kids will be kids and you can’t see or stop everything. Anyway, good post Abby poo! Hehe.

    • desertCard
      9:34 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      But if they are student athletes they should be held as accountable as a football, bball, etc player. That only the coaches who weren’t supervising get punished makes it look like it was a club. No accountability. Like they’re not really UK athletes. I played soccer at UK and we were good friends with rugby team. We never did that kind of crap at ours parties. We got thoroughly drunk but weren’t somewhere in an official capacity repping UK throwing nude people. So a good time has to include bottomless dudes throwing bottomless dudes? That’s just weird.

    • satcheluk
      8:33 am May 20, 2020 Permalink

      If you claim to never see a swinging dick at a rugby party at UK, then you didn’t go to many. Someone usually got naked, then a fight broke out shortly after, then they’d be crushing beer cans over their heads and bro hugging it out.

  3. nocode96
    9:34 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    Wonderful, thoughtful response. All the points made are correct and it’s nice to see someone who is actually in the know respond in such a manner. He was patronizing, dismissive, and arrogant in what was written, and in one fell swoop you absolutely made him look even worse. Kudos and well done.

  4. Blueballz
    9:38 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    So brave

    • Crushgroove
      9:42 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      Stunning and Brave!

    • desertCard
      9:37 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      So brave lol. Rape victims are brave. Abuse victims are brave. Soldiers are brave. Because you don’t like someone’s opinion doesn’t make you brave lol.

  5. Crushgroove
    9:40 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    Sounds like Bozich triggered some self-awareness, maybe hit a truth nerve that prompted some trips to the mirror…

    I bet you could throw a football over that mountain, Uncle Rico.

  6. Teamhhc1
    9:40 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    Cheerleading is most definitely a sport, and a sport I am proud of at the University of Kentucky. Great response taking up for your SPORT!!!!

    • unbridled
      9:47 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      Definitely not a sport. It’s a judged competition. Big difference

    • kjgouk
      9:58 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      ^clueless unbridled. Cheerleaders go from basketball season to volleyball to football season to competition season. They have no “off” season.

    • RAGE
      10:17 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      Is the UFC or boxing not a sport??? Cause I believe they have judges also….

    • RAGE
      10:18 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      That is if there ain’t a finish before the last bell…

    • unbridled
      10:19 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      Kjgouk, I’m not downplaying their work ethic, their training, their talent, their athletic ability, their value….nothing of the sort. They are amazing at what they do. I enjoy their routine thoroughly. Hell I kinda wanted to be a cheerleader but I lacked the tumbling. I’m just telling you that it is a judged competition and not a sport. No way around that.

    • unbridled
      10:22 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      Boxing and mma judges only come into play when a match unfortunately goes to full length and is not decided by the competing opponents. That’s the worst aspect of those sports. Yes they are sports. Decisions are very subjective and always up for debate. Sports are officiated, not judged.

    • dcforuk
      12:06 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      Seems like hair splitting. Are you making up your own dictionary? Yes AND, not yes but. Yes, it’s judged AND yes it’s a sport.

    • tncatrn
      7:29 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      unbridled….you should LITERALLY look up the definition of the word sport. How can u say this isnt a sport? Based on what exactly? Is gymnastics a sport? The winners are judged to be the winners. The World Olympic Committee deemed it a sport a really long time ago…chearleading is not that far removed from it. Dude u are an absolute imbecile…get a dictionary

    • BowdenQB4ever
      8:56 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      Title IX really changed the landscape for designating what is/isn’t a sport. Certain activities were invented/reclassified as sports so they could justify enough scholarships for male teams. Cheerleading is just athletic busy work the schools were forced to classify as sports to please the government.

    • unbridled
      10:11 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      Hey tncatrn, is professional wrestling a sport? By definition it should be qualified as a sport. Thats imbecilic.

    • unbridled
      10:13 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      How dare anyone say the wwe is not a sport! Just more outrage culture. Sheesh.

    • tncatrn
      11:49 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      Unbridled….im sorry who brought up the WWE?! You are aware its made up right? Its fake. Its outcome is predetermined therefore no it isnt a sport. Man u are an idiot. What is your IQ bout the same as your shoe size i would imagine. Moron…

  7. TonyMontana
    9:53 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    No matter your views…. you gotta admit, that picture is crazy impressive.

  8. Theymademesignup
    9:55 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    Cheerleading is such a popular sport, when I type the word “Cheerleading”, it has a red line underneath telling me that I am spelling the word wrong. Even Spellcheck doesn’t care about cheerleading.

    • Crushgroove
      10:59 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink


  9. scwhite9
    10:01 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    Well written. You were much kinder than he in stating your side. He should be ashamed of his attitude toward these athletes.

    I am sad that this happened to the UK cheerleaders, their families, the University of Kentucky, and, yes, the coaches. At least one good thing is coming out of this. The cheerleaders are now where they should have always been – under the rule of the Athletics Department.

    I wish you all the best.

  10. 4everUKBlue
    10:11 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    Great article and so well written, Bozich was way out to line as some of the commenters have been throughout the day. I feel bad for everyone involved, we all make mistakes, it’s what we do with those mistakes that makes the difference. Best of luck to you all and GO BIG BLUE!

  11. FirstTime58
    10:16 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    He was probably born ass first and his look hasn’t improved.

    • T-Town Cat
      10:31 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      I’ll bet after the doctor smacked him that the nurses got in a few shots, too.

  12. AirForceOne
    10:42 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    They can flip, twist, jump and shout as good as anyone…..but what happened with the Kentucky squad is a disgrace. They are not only part of gameday atmosphere, but they are ambassadors of the University. Every cheerleader on the squad should be suspended immediately. If there is so much as a hint of improper behavior, then they should be kicked off the squad permanently. Being a UK athlete requires a different level of behavior.

    • unbridled
      11:21 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

      Really?!? You can’t be serious. This was nothing. My guess is you have never stepped foot on uk’s campus.

    • AirForceOne
      11:12 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      I not only stepped foot on the UK campus, I actually graduated from there. If they were traveling and partying on UK’s dime, then they can’t be acting like this in public. If they want to get naked, drunk and party…..then you can no longer be a part of the team. When you are a representative of the University (and they are), then character counts.

    • 4everUKBlue
      7:01 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      unbridled was surely raised by wolves….wait that would give wolves a bad name, but clearly was raised with no discipline whatsoever.

    • Dee
      7:59 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      Relax Francis.

  13. kykats
    11:03 pm May 18, 2020 Permalink

    Bozich has never written an article that comes anywhere close to touching your response. Never been prouder to be a UK “cheerleader”!

  14. crazycatfan65
    12:12 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Well done ma’am!! Perfect response!!

  15. itsfootballtimeinthebluegrass
    2:43 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    No one gives a shit

    • kjgouk
      2:57 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      It appears you do. Clicked on the article and even checked out the comment section.

  16. Urincatland
    3:37 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Well said young lady!

  17. ready4nineNOW
    6:30 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Courier must not have liked it either. Check out the bozich article link. Most of what she said is no longer in the article online

  18. Aar
    7:36 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Great, well written, restrained and factual response to words that never should have been written by anybody in any forum. My only wish is that Abigail would not have called out the events of yesterday as the sad day for the sport. It is the behaviors that led to the program changes that were announced yesterday that are sad. Hopefully, the changes that were announced yesterday result in behaviors that turn yesterday into a great day for the program and the sport.

  19. Dee
    7:39 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Botzich is an idiot. Stoppid comments by him.

    What I am having trouble understanding is…

    What’s the issue with letting college kids party? No one was forced or “made to do it”

    They are “adults” having a good time. It was a family member (one with influences I’m sure) that was offended.

    I’m serious. None of the stuff I read… was worthy of dismal.

    Sounds like a snowflake got offended… and it’s not “pc” to have fun.

    Sooo what am I missing?

    • 4everUKBlue
      7:46 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      I think what you’re missing is this was a UK sponsored events, which means they were representing the University of Kentucky with the coaching staff observing and by allowing this to happen means they condoned it. Had this not been a UK sponsored trip there would be no problem. How would this have played out had it been the men’s or women’s basketball team on a UK sponsored event and the coaching staff stood by and watched?

  20. Dee
    7:57 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    4everUKBlue so your telling me when the basketball team travels to the Bahamas there’s no drinking. No tomfoolery…

    K. And the coaches don’t know a thing about it.

    • 4everUKBlue
      7:59 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      Dee I can’t help you, I just hope you don’t have any children.

    • desertCard
      9:43 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      Probably not. It’s a whole other level of athlete and the mission while there. They’re for sure not throwing each other bottomless into the sea.

  21. Dee
    8:04 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    I have two girls. That know right from wrong… and were raised to understand that peer pressure is just an excuse for not taking responsibility of ones own actions.

    You avoided my question.

    What’s the difference between the Bahamas trip and what happen at Lake Cumberland?

  22. UKfanman01
    8:06 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Excellent article. Everyone always compares Cal to Saban. Best program is UK cheerleading, not Alabama football or UK basketball.

  23. UKFanSC
    8:18 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Cheerleading is an activity that, over time, has evolved from a truly superfluous group of people yelling in unison on the sidelines to a highly competitive activity that is too subjective to be called a true sport. Regardless, it has nothing to do with the acceptability of a school-sponsored group getting drunk, measuring penises, and doing half-naked basket tosses.

  24. terwilliger
    8:31 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    When is KSR going to comment on the real story? Which is that dozens of former UK cheerleaders are speaking out in defense of their coaches as mentors and leaders of young people? Many have stated that the topless stuff was completely optional and that there was no pressuring. UK’s own report even concluded that. So why does Tyler Thompson keep ringing that bell?

  25. Jesus H. Chrysler
    8:44 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Is she hot?

  26. UKFanSC
    8:51 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    I think some would say, as a school-sponsored “sport” that awards scholarships and has state funding these coaches are accountable for their teams, and they were present while this behavior was occurring.
    Of course it was optional…. you think their coach would say, “OK team…..take off your clothes, we’re going to practice drunken basket tosses” ?? These people were not mentors and leaders…..they present as incompetent enablers who allowed minors to embarrass the University.

    • terwilliger
      9:17 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      As someone who paid tuition to UK for years, and pays taxes to the state of Kentucky every year, I can tell you I’m much more embarrassed by the actions of our AD than of the cheerleaders or their coaches. We are living in a society nowadays where 100 people can vouch for someone’s character and competence, but all it takes is the accusation of 1 to ruin a person (or persons). That is wrong.

    • terwilliger
      9:21 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      And I’ll also add that anyone who thinks you can build a championship program — or a successful life for that matter — by being “all work and no play” is living in denial. We are human beings. We have to blow off steam sometimes and not do every single thing by the book so as not to offend others. That’s no way to live.

    • desertCard
      9:47 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      terwilliger you seem to gloss over the fact repeatedly. this was NOT an off campus independent party. It was a UK sanctioned event. Big diff. I’m sure you’d love your 18 yr old daughter doing this but many do not when UK is liable for any misdeeds, injuries, criminal activity.

    • terwilliger
      9:54 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

      Yep, there it is. Liability. That’s the key point in all this. In fact, it’s the key point in everything anyone does or doesn’t do in America anymore. Lawsuits and the threat of lawsuits govern everything now. I’m not glossing over that at all… I’m lamenting it and saying I disagree with it.

  27. UKLugo
    8:58 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Collegiate cheerleaders are incredible athletes and they play a vital role in making the college games and environments what they are.; not to mention the accolades they receive for competition in their own sport. Having said that, I dont see or understand their place in professional sports.

    9:04 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Bozich is looking for click bait, plain and simple. As far as cheerleaders at the Olympics, he obviously forgot about the Louisville cheerleaders selected to represent the USA in the opening ceremonies in Atlanta. I have cheered/coached cheer for over 20 years. I have seen and heard of much worse, most recently a U of L cheerleader that OD’d at an off campus apartment. Before that, a U of L cheerleader being kicked off the team after a boyfriend leaked her nude photos. I’m not recalling these incidents to embarrass U of L, but rather to point out Bozich’s bias amnesia and the fact that “this too shall pass” and will be old news in 2 weeks.

  29. Skywalker
    9:23 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Cheerleading is a sport and takes athletic ability, but it is a side show, .0001 percent of fans attend games to see the cheerleaders, only family and close friends attend the competitions. College sports would survive without cheerleaders, and if you think it is not somewhat about sex appeal why do the men and women dress different and not wear one uniform such as basketball and baseball. Bozich wasn’t completely out of line, I get the point he was trying to make, and the sensitive world is keeping most of us admitting the truth. I like how this cheerleader included a pic with Coach Cal like he was there to recruit her, your the ring girl to the main event, someone who fills in the lulls of time of what the paying fans came for.

  30. runningunnin.454
    9:34 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    No one has more respect for the time and effort it takes to be a competitive cheerleader than I; and, no one is more proud of the accomplishments of UK’s program. However I would point out that respect, admiration, and appreciation of other’s accomplishments are not a generational trait; that’s just another stereotype. I remember cheering for the Cats in the ’58 title season; probably not very many here can say that.
    I also agree with Jason74, I wish that this could have been handled internally with a reprimand, training, and probation; making it clear that there will be a zero tolerance for such activities.
    And yes, cheerleaders are athletes, and the Oxford definition of cheerleading is “A SPORT involving the performance of organized cheering, chanting, and dancing in support of a sports team”.

  31. kacat2
    9:44 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    BRAVO young lady, absolutely brilliant response and unlike Bozo, you stated facts! We love and respect out cheerleading and dance teams and its long overdue for them to get the same resources of the other athletics teams. Tremendous athletes who make us all proud! This is a dark moment that reflects poorly on the adults who where entrusted to provide leadership and guidance. KY failed them and that is now going to be addressed. But please don’t think for a moment that this colossal asshat Rick Bozick represents the views of anyone with a brain. He doesn’t, he is an ignorant pig who is nothing more than a pimple on the oozing ass of male chauvinism.

  32. Skywalker
    9:56 am May 19, 2020 Permalink

    Remember that there are men on the cheerleading team as well, the guys that dunk basketballs off trampolines are athletes as well, but also still a sideshow

  33. BigBlueSkyDog
    1:50 pm May 19, 2020 Permalink

    At every UK athletic event I attended, the cheerleaders displayed ultimate class. They were anything but tawdry. I hate that all of them are being smeared by the same broad brush. Keep your heads up and walk through this. Look forward to seeing you on September 5.

  34. bbn606
    10:25 am May 20, 2020 Permalink

    I know there is always two sides to the story but it’s just not a good time for a UK cheerleader to be speaking out.

  35. dcforuk
    10:45 pm May 20, 2020 Permalink

    Often these things are like a loose string in a sweater. Sometimes you pull the string and it’s just a couple inch piece that may break off. Other times, you keep pulling and pulling and pretty soon you have a mess of thread/string. If the leaders make up their mind before they start pulling, such presumed guilt or innocence WILL get them in trouble. The harder part is to proceed and see what every one to inches of sweater reveals. Three months is a long time. The reality is that we don’t know the all of the pertinent and relevant details of the sweater string. Hopefully, the length of time correlates with fair assessments and not rash conclusions. The final conclusions were strong but that does not necessarily equate to rash. It seemed like one of the anonymous cheerleaders admitted to some poor judgment. There are many things that are permitted but not necessarily beneficial. The more I (and you and them) engage in activities that aren’t necessarily beneficial, the greater the possibility that things won’t go well with me. That’s the law of the farm that we reap what we sow. I am not privy to the full details of what was sown. Was it fair and just? IDK