Too often we forget that there is a human element to sports that goes beyond the final score of a game. This week, a cheerleader for the Baltimore Ravens is giving us a reminder about that very theme.
Courtney Lenz is a 5-year veteran of the Ravens cheerleading squad, according to ABC News, and she'll be retiring from her role with the Ravens at the conclusion of this season. Despite that, she did not receive an invitation to join the team in New Orleans for an opportunity to cheer for the Ravens in the Super Bowl. However, on an appearance on "Access Hollywood", Lenz claimed she was barred from the Super Bowl because she gained weight.
"During the season, I was 124. That was consistently, they wanted me to get back down to 121, 120, which is what I was at when I was 18, 19, when I started on the team," she said. "That was the only disciplinary action I had during the year. I got benched because of my weight, and they said that was the reason. Anybody that had disciplinary action taken during the season was automatically disqualified [from the Super Bowl]. However, there are some girls on the team that were also benched for their weight, and are going. So they just aren't consistent, it isn't fair. That's why I brought this to the attention of the fans because what they're doing is not right."
The team issued a statement saying Lenz's weight gain did not factor into their decision to not bring her to New Orleans.
"As set by the NFL, we are permitted to bring 32 cheerleaders to the Super Bowl. Our selection process was based upon three criteria: seniority, performance ability and personal conduct throughout the season. As much as we would like to take the whole team, we are unable to do so, due to parameters set by the NFL."
Sure, many cheerleaders are left out, but one would think that a 5-year retiring veteran would be a sure lock, right?
Many fans are outraged by the apparent wronging of such a dedicated member of the cheer squad, and have started an online petition to send Ms. Lenz to the Super Bowl. At the time of writing this, the petition was just shy of 4,400 signatures.
Although it appears Lenz will not be heading to New Orleans, the story does serve to remind us all that there are people behind the game, and in this case, I think it's important to reward loyalty, dedication and hard work. Apparently there are about 4,400 other people that completely agree.
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