Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I am, among other things, a high school dance team coach. I love the sport, having participated in it during junior and senior high school, after many years of studio training in my childhood.

When I arrived at our first competition last year, I remembered one aspect of the competition that I had managed to black out in my five year lapse between participant and coach.

In the hallways on their way to the performance floor, the girls cluck "Good Luck, Good Luck, Good Luck" to opposing teams they pass. Teams who don’t do this are viewed as rude/uppity, teams who pull it off with the least amount of fakeness, get the Best Sportsmanship awards.

I know that the girls, bedecked in sparkles and spandex, shellacked in blush and false eyelashes, are not going to stare each other down like two hockey players might at the faceoff. But still, this is a competitive sport, and though the battle involves slapping smiles on and kicking to the high heavens, I was not convinced that the fakeness of the performance had to translate off the floor to a false camaraderie among the competitors. I forced a small smile on, each time, and made sure to wish the coaches a good performance.

Over the course of the season, I came around on the subject. It happened because we took 2nd place at the state tournament- squeaking by a competitor that we had been losing to all year by very small margins. In our final performances, neither team made a mistake. It would have been really brutal to only beat them because a member of their team fell or missed a critical element. As it was, we were secure in our win, knowing that we had apples to apples performances and our runner-up status was deserved and not by default.

I think my problem is not with the sentiment anymore- at the root, the idea that you want a healthy and fair competition is of course true for most coaches and teams. I just wish that the sincerity of it could somehow be fixed. The very nature of the sport- that it's almost pageant-y at times, between the hair, makeup, and costumes- makes that pretty impossible.

N is for Niceties. I guess I am okay with them, but it still seems kind of silly.