Sports and Culture Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) said Tuesday she was in favor of banning cheerleader performances from basketball games, adding that she had suggested such a move to Israeli Basketball Premier League officials.
Livnat was responding to a query by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) in the Knesset plenum.
Zandberg suggested that cheerleading acts should be eliminated from games because they were “an institution that maintains stereotypes and sexist perceptions of women and leads to the objectification of the female body.”
“The only purpose of a cheerleading act is to entertain the crowd that came to watch the basketball game, and is composed primarily of men,” she added.
Livnat responded that she found cheerleading performances “unsettling.”
She said that she had spoken with officials in the administration of the Israeli Basketball Premier League (IBL) and had suggested nixing cheerleading performances altogether.
She did not mention any further plan of action.
The IBL administration also responded to Zandberg’s comments, saying in a statement that teams were required to provide some form of entertainment to spectators during half-time, but that this was not limited to cheerleading squads.
Administration officials noted that many games hosted male breakdance and capoeira troupes instead of cheerleaders, “and so we do not understand (Zandberg’s) objection to cheerleader performances, which are common practice in the US and Europe and are usually of a very high standard.”