ONTD Political

Baltimore Ravens cheerleader says she was benched from Super Bowl because of weight gain

9:36 pm - 01/31/2013

A veteran Baltimore Ravens cheerleader says she wasn't included on the squad's Super Bowl roster because of a slight weight gain.

Friends of the benched cheerer, Courtney Lenz, have started an online petition to get her to New Orleans. It claims the Ravens have done an "injustice." The decision to keep her in Baltimore was an insult to healthy body image, the petition says.

It has more than 23,000 signatures and 5,000 Facebook likes.

Lenz, 23, has been on the Ravens sideline for five seasons. She has been featured in team calendars and appeared at events on behalf of the team. Though NFL rules dictate only 32 of the Ravens' 60 cheerleaders can attend Sunday's game, Lenz figured she'd make the cut because of her seniority with the team. All women with more than three years experience are on the Super Bowl roster.

Why not Lenz? She thinks it's because she gained 1.4 pounds during the season. She has told various news outlets that she added the weight to her usual 124-pound frame. The organization wanted her to get down to 120 pounds, she claims.

"They didn't specifically say that [it was because of the weight], but when it comes down to it, that's the only disciplinary action I had during the year,'' she told NBC's Today. "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. However, there are some girls on the team that were also benched for their weight and are going."

Wait, so some women who had weight gain issues are going? Doesn't that sink Lenz's contention that size was the factor in her benching?

Further clouding the issue is that Lenz retired at the end of the regular season. She wanted to focus on pursuits outside cheerleading. The team had told her she "didn't put as many appearance hours" in as she should have this season.

"Our selection process was based upon three criteria: seniority, performance ability and personal conduct throughout the season,'' a Ravens spokeswoman said in a statement. "As much as we would like to take the whole team, we are unable to do so, due to parameters set by the NFL.''

Lenz has done interviews to draw attention to her story and seems to hope the hot-button issue of body image will get her to New Orleans. The larger cause is noble and important. Her sob story is less so.

"This season she earned her B.S. degree and got a full time job... Bad call," the petition reads, in an unintentional celebration of misplaced priorities. She made the decision to retire and isn't owed anything.

If the Ravens indeed benched her for weight, then Lenz's benching is worth a second look. If there were other extenuating circumstances, which there appear to be, then she should take a page from Alex Smith and accept her benching with dignity.

USA Today
dumpweeds 1st-Feb-2013 03:57 am (UTC)
the tone of this article irks me
kyra_neko_rei 1st-Feb-2013 04:16 am (UTC)
Me too.
kaizopp 1st-Feb-2013 04:29 am (UTC)
It sounds like it's written by someone paid to make her sound like a liar. (not saying it's the case, but yeah, that's what my mind jumped to because of the tone.)
spyral_path 1st-Feb-2013 04:43 am (UTC)

In this article she makes no mention of her weight, but says she was left off the roster because she'd quit at the end of the regular season, so it does kind of seem like she's bringing up her weight now just to add fuel to the fire.

But I don't like the tone of this article either. it sounds like it was written by some snarky ex jock who has no respect for women.
natyanayaki 1st-Feb-2013 04:46 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think she's probably honest that she was benched for weight gain (it happens in cheerleading), but I'm not sure that that's why she wasn't chosen. I wonder if any of the 32 chosen have announced that they don't plan to return.
ljtaylor 1st-Feb-2013 08:24 am (UTC)
yeah she has also been confusingly quoted, and since there is an insertion for 'clarification', I am side eyeing this.

"They didn't specifically say that [it was because of the weight], but when it comes down to it, that's the only disciplinary action I had during the year,'' she told NBC's Today. "I got benched because of my weight, and they said that was the reason."

teacoat 3rd-Feb-2013 03:59 pm (UTC)
It sounds like she got benched at some point during the regular season because she gained weight, but the team didn't specifically say she was benched from the Super Bowl for her weight. And then other cheerleaders that also got benched for weight during the regular season *didn't* get benched from the Super Bowl because of it (possibly because they lost the "extra" weight beforehand).
astridmyrna 1st-Feb-2013 04:37 am (UTC)
The larger cause is noble and important. Her sob story is less so.
Hey, hey asshole...

Fuck this biased journalist.
natyanayaki 1st-Feb-2013 04:44 am (UTC)
I wonder if any of the cheerleaders chosen already announced their decision to retire as Courtney Lenz apparently has. I'm not saying that she's lying about being benched for her weight gain, that sort of thing happens I'm sure (in cheerleading, gymnastics, dance) but that might not be the reason she wasn't chosen to go to the Superbowl. I can understand choosing a cheerleader who'll be returning, or who hasn't announced her departure over one who isn't returning (but that's assuming that all of the "chosen" are returning, and I don't have information regarding that). As I understand it, she announced that she'd be retiring after the last game of the season so she'd technically already be in retirement in the post season? If that's the case, I can understand why the cheer coaches wouldn't choose her, and would instead choose someone who is still technically a part of the roster.

Edited at 2013-02-01 04:49 am (UTC)
sihaya09 1st-Feb-2013 04:57 am (UTC)
Quite frankly, it sounds like she felt entitled to the slot, even after she'd announced she was retiring and started to put in less hours. Doesn't exactly sound like "injustice" to me.
natyanayaki 1st-Feb-2013 05:11 am (UTC)
After reading into this more, I agree with you and I'm not sure that this author's tone bothers me as much as when I first read it especially if she's now using those two disciplinary actions in order to be included on the team to the SB (and essentially take the seat away from someone who was already picked). Though I am a bit curious if it's possible that she chose to retire because of fat-shaming, if that's the case I would have more sympathy for her, but it does seem that she initially did not cite her weight gain as the reason for why she wasn't picked. I hope that the reason she wasn't picked is because she's retired, and not because of her weight.
sihaya09 1st-Feb-2013 05:14 am (UTC)
I think the weight standards in the industry suck, and yeah, it would suck if she were retiring due to that (although she gave other reasons in the interview). But the article flat out says that other people who'd been benched for gaining were picked, and like you said... the petition basically means someone already IN New Orleans to work would get sent home. That's shitty.
natyanayaki 1st-Feb-2013 05:20 am (UTC)
I hate the weight requirements, but because I've been dancing since I was 3 I understand them to a degree. I think technique, and talent should always be considered more important than weight, but when lifts might be involved (I don't watch football, and I don't know if cheerleading for football involves lifts)...I don't know...I get it to a degree in certain contexts, though I want to reiterate that ability, technique, and talent is far, far, far more important (or should be).
liret 1st-Feb-2013 05:39 am (UTC)
It's not really like competitive cheerleading at all - I don't know that none of the teams do lifts/acrobatics, but most don't, and they still have the weight requirements.
natyanayaki 1st-Feb-2013 05:47 am (UTC)
furrygreen 1st-Feb-2013 11:46 am (UTC)
I've heard that too, but then I've also heard that these pro cheerleading teams are about sex appeal. Wearing tiny costumes and whatnot. Given our current stereotypes of what smexy is, it's not completely surprising that a cheerleader would be benched.

I don't know, though. I don't watch sports of any kind and certainly not cheerleading so I'm just shooting in the dark but... Benched for 1.4 pounds? WTF. Can you even see 1.4 pounds? It seems even weirder because muscle weighs more than fat. Pounds don't always equate to fat. I can imagine being sidelined then trying to "lose the weight" and then technically gaining more weight from muscle.

This BS is why I can't stand pro sports.
teacoat 3rd-Feb-2013 04:02 pm (UTC)
But the article flat out says that other people who'd been benched for gaining were picked, and like you said...

It's still possible that they were allowed to go because they got back down to an ~acceptable weight~ before the Super Bowl, whereas Lenz did not.
natyanayaki 4th-Feb-2013 01:56 am (UTC)
True, but I wonder if any of the cheerleaders who were picked have already announced their retirement.
liret 1st-Feb-2013 05:38 am (UTC)
Apparently they only take half the squad, so it seems impossible to say that if she hadn't gained any weight she would have been one of the ones picked.

I mean, I think the weigh-ins for cheerleaders are ridiculous, but that doesn't mean it's why she's not going to the superbowl or that they should have to bring her.
othellia 1st-Feb-2013 06:24 am (UTC)
I don't like the tone of the article either, but the fact that the Ravens are taking other cheerleaders who gained weight makes me think that it's more related to her retirement than her body image.
teacoat 3rd-Feb-2013 04:08 pm (UTC)
The article says they were taking other cheerleaders who had been benched during the season for gaining weight, not other cheerleaders that gained weight before the Super Bowl. It's possible that they were allowed to go because they got back down to an ~acceptable weight~ before the Super Bowl, whereas Lenz did not.
stainedfeathers 1st-Feb-2013 07:37 am (UTC)
Having gone through the past two years of losing weight/tracking my weight it made me doubletake at the line: "She thinks it's because she gained 1.4 pounds during the season." -Really-? I, like most people, fluctuate by a pound or more over the course of a day, and twice that when my menstrual cycle hits. Weight doesn't stay at a stationary number, it fluctuates so I doubt she's 124 lbs all the time; she's more likely 122-126 depending on time of day, meals, and time of month. I don't doubt they have weight standards that are tough and ridiculous, but this tends to make me question her story right off the bat...
hawkward 1st-Feb-2013 09:32 am (UTC)
As another one who's doing the weight-tracking thing, iawtc.
eyetosky 1st-Feb-2013 08:11 pm (UTC)
I had a bit of a stop and blink at that, too.

1.4? That's... well, that's frankly just one good poopin' away, really.
teacoat 3rd-Feb-2013 04:05 pm (UTC)
When they have weigh-ins though, I'm sure the cheerleaders do everything possible to make sure they're at the lowest end of their weight range, like wrestlers will do before a match.
switch_heart 1st-Feb-2013 01:29 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry but as far as research shows, no other girl on the team announced their retirement at the end of the regular season. Also if she is in fact putting in less hours and pushing for chances outside of cheer leading then she does not deserve to go to the Super Bowl. The other girls selected clearly are staying on the team and deserve to go.

As others have mentioned above, 1.4 pounds can fluctuate depending on diet, where you are in your cycle, if you've drank enough water that day. And tied in, other girls who have gained weight are already going!
Using any sort of body shaming as a rallying call in a situation where it is not a factor is offensive to those who actually are cut off from opportunities because of their body.
blackjedii 1st-Feb-2013 11:56 pm (UTC)
Not that we'll ever know the "real" reason but to be honest - if she wasn't putting in the hours, I'd put that over supposed "weight gain." If she'd gained say, 10 - 20 pounds I could definitely see some discrimination going on but I have a feeling this is more just an unlucky break that her retirement is at the same time as her team finally getting to go and she's grasping at straws so she can go out for a last hurrah.

I really like the fact that the Internet can bring up worthy causes but... I'm sorry guys. I just don't see this as a worthy cause so much as Support The Pretty Person getting manipulated for her benefit. :/
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