In high school, it always struck me as interesting that the cheerleading team was predominantly white and the step team was predominantly black. Now, myself, I always found the step team more interesting to watch (as we inevitably would during pep rallies), but also always thought the ethnic disparity belied some kind of implicit racism on both sides.

Unforunately, I may be right: Online debate rages over white group’s step win:

The uproar began when the all-white Zeta Tau Alpha team from the University of Arkansas beat out five other sorority teams to win last weekend’s national final in the Sprite Step Off competition. A YouTube video of their performance, inspired by the movie “The Matrix,” generated hundreds of comments.

Posters questioned everything from whether a white group should have been allowed to compete to whether judges wowed by the unlikely competitors inflated their scores to let them win.

“Good Job but let the Black folks have their own thing for once!!!” wrote one commenter posting under the name “titetowers” who said the Zeta Tau Alpha team did well but should not have won.


I watched the YouTube video of the performance, and I’ll just note a few things: first that the crowd seemed to be enjoying it. They were hooting and hollering in what seemed to be an approving manner at the appropriately impressive parts of the show. The MC also comes out at the end and says, over a dully-roaring crowd, (emphasis his) “Stepping is for everybody! [Pause for rise in cheers] If you can step, you can step!” He clearly thought it was solid performance.

Now, I’m no great aficionado of step performances, but it’s worth noting that this team performed a 9-minute routine with consistency and synchronization. They clearly practiced extensively for this. Whatever else you can say about this, you can’t say they didn’t work for it.

But, given the positive attitude of the crowd and the fact that the news article only cites YouTube comments (which have their own flaws), this really may just be a tempest in a teapot.

I’m okay with the idea of the news media culling Twitter for leads on fast-breaking situations like earthquakes, but actually making stories out of YouTube comments seems… foolhardy at best.

Edit (3 hours later): Well, maybe not. Here’s the video of the crowd booing at the award ceremony when it becomes clear who is going to win first place. It’s not clear if that’s really the crowd or other competitors, though. Booing may be par for the course. Who knows.

Toward the end, though, someone off-camera is overheard saying “They were the best ones… They killed it.”