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The Krissy Cox saga.

(12 hours later, i sorta wish i hadn't written this. i feel bad, because the last thing that girl needs is more stuff written about her. 

but i feel like with other sites just randomly abusing her, well, i had to say something, whatever it was.)

First off: if you'd like to call Krissy Cox a bitch, or angrily tell other people why they are assholes for calling Krissy Cox a bitch, you're in the wrong place, son. 

I don't want to call anybody names. I just want to document what was a really fascinating sociological scenario on the internets yesterday. 

As I'm sure you've seen, Northwestern got featured in ESPN the Magazine, and, well, not in a good way. Thursday, Bama Hawkeye put up this fanpost alerting me to this (let's be real) hilarious post on BHGP dissecting a piece in the mag. Basically Josh Zucker, an author, thought it would be a cute story idea to profile cheerleaders at a school that has a rich losing tradition. (Northwestern does.) The issue, of course, is that as of late, NU hasn't been horrifically bad. Northwestern is five games over .500 in football in Cox's tenure at NU, and has gone a combined 17-8 in the past two years. Our basketball team is 6-1 this year, made the NIT last year, and many around the school, program, and college basketball media consider that to have been a jumping off point. 

The article features nothing besides quotes from Cox and brief headers Zucker gave them. In the quotes put in the article, she never says anything to promote Northwestern, but is quoted complaining about lack of fan support, the difficulty of cheering on a losing team, and implies that Northwestern's teams frequently lose by 40.

So obviously, there was some legit outrage about this. You have probably seen the violently angry posting on Wildcat Report or Spread Far the Fame, if not, hey, go check it out! 

Anyways, a Facebook group called "Petition to kick Krissy Cox off the Northwestern Cheerleading Squad" was founded. At 3 P.M., this group had 15 members. At 3:20, it had 75. At 3:45, it had about 200, and by 5, it was at over 500. It topped out at a bit over 600 by my count. I'd estimate somewhere in between 5 and 10 percent of NU's students were in this group

Eventually, the admins of the group changed the name to "Petition to kick off a certain member of the Northwestern Cheerleading Squad" and later something along the lines of "People who disagree with Krissy Cox in ESPN the Magazine." Clearly the admin was a little distraught by what was going on. By 8, the group was gone. 

Gone with it were the comments, and a depressingly unfunny acoustic guitar version of Elton John's "Your Song" with customized lyrics about Cox. (the dude who did that is really, really lucky that the group is gone.) A decent percentage of the members of this group were varsity athletes and former varsity athletes, both male and female. Some guys on the football team wrote some pretty disparaging stuff about Cox. 

I don't know why this group disappeared. Most likely, it's gone because the guy who founded the group had some pangs of guilt about how his moderately funny "hey, this girl said some mean stuff! booo!" group turned into a 600-person hatefest. But if the group was still up, NU football would have some issues on their hands. When a player for your team, who is not hiding behind an alias or other name says something about a cheerleader like they did on a forum that had thousands of eyes on it, you know, that ain't a good thing. It's one thing if they did it behind closed doors, or anonymously. But, uh, nobody is making a fake facebook to frame NU football players as saying things. Facebook is on record. 

I was talking about this to people, and our consensus was that NU fans shouldn't be surprised if some players of moderate importance to NU's game plan are in reduced roles. Pat Fitzgerald doesn't tolerate much. The guy kicked Jeff Radek off the team last year for owning a BB gun. He frowns on players going out unless it's immediately after a Northwestern victory. And I wouldn't be surprised if one of those things he doesn't tolerate is athletes on the team referring to another varsity athlete - which, by definition, cheerleaders are - as a bitch in a public forum. I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with him if he takes that view, I'm just sayin' he might. There's not a huge chance of this happening, and if it does, we'll never hear about it publicly through Fitz or anybody. 

Anyways, on to the bigger issue: Cox. 


There's no doubt in my mind that considering she's a four-year member of the cheerleading squad and has probably devoted large, large, large amounts of time to following the football team and basketball teams, that she doesn't hate NU sports. I'd be very surprised if Cox gave an interview, and this was all she said. What probably happened was Zucker asked her a question like "what's it like to cheerlead at a school where the teams lose all the time?" and she said something like "well, we're really good now" and he said "just give me a hypothetical, if NU sucked at sports, what would you do?" and she said what she said, and it ended up looking like this. 

Here's the thing. That's completely ethical, so anybody saying it isn't is lying. Nobody's denying Cox (double giggle) said anything that she's quoted as saying in the story. Yeah, she probably got suckered into it. But big whoop. I'm a journalism student, when I have to write something or get a quote, I'll ask somebody a pointed question. If they're stupid enough to answer it how I want them to, well, their loss. You should give them a chance to back out o Sometimes, I'll put context there to explain why they said it if it's a quote I think they wouldn't like published, because a) I'm not a jerk and b) I might need to talk to that guy again.  This is probably something a non-Medill student who never got the media training most varsity athletes go through (cheerleading, as I understand, is the only group of varsity athletes not to get this training which teaches each and every NU athlete from backup field hockey players to Mike Kafka how to effectively coachspeak their way through things), but it's true, and one of the reasons Cox's interview is so damning is because she probably didn't get this. 

But other than assuming Northwestern has horrible athletics, Zucker did nothing journalistically wrong. Yeah, he duped this girl. But the thing that gets me annoyed is that if he paid attention to college sports, he would've interviewed a Notre Dame or Michigan cheerleader ("so, what's it like to cheer at a school you thought would be 11-1 every year but actually an all-around awful heap of depression" is the kind of question he really should've asked), but that's besides the point.

Moving on, everybody I know who knows Cox or spoke to someone who does has said some combination of "she's a nice girl and loves Northwestern sports." I believe these things. They also mention that Zucker said the story was going to be called something along the lines of "Cheerleading at a school that doesn't always win" which is a lot different from the pointed title the story had. They also mention that she was told to do this by NU's sports information department and coaching staff.

What she should've done was not do the interview. It's very clear to me that this journalist was trying to use her, and she should've been smart enough to see through this. Even so, she might have gone through with the interview because hey, I'd like to get my name and face into ESPN too, and, hell, it probably seemed like great publicity for NU and the cheerleading squad. 

To say it backfired is a major understatement. Cox screwed up, and screwed up bad. I'm sure she understands this, and I'm sure she's pretty distraught about it. But don't feel bad about being angry at her for saying some really, really stupid things off the cuff to an interviewer. I'm pretty sure she's probably pretty pissed off at herself for saying them too. I'm angry, because yo, we're good at football and basketball, and some dude read that article and forgot about the Alamo Bowl last year and us beating two ranked teams in three weeks (not to mention basketball) and will see us in another bowl and think "good to see that team losing all the time finally had a good year," because some really smart junior who loves college football just crossed us off his college list, because some bowl rep read that article. I'm angry at her because if you're not an NU fan, and you read that article, if you knew about the NU era of good feelings we've been in for the past few months, it's over, and you probably forgot it ever existed in the first place. She let Northwestern down, plain and simple.

But it's a lot like the way I felt towards Amado Villarreal after he shanked an extra point that turned out to be might important in a bowl game that went into overtime. First off, I'm mad he missed that. But I don't hate the guy. If I saw him on the street, I don't think I'd call him an asshole or shank him. I'd think "man, I'm mad as hell he missed that extra point" but I've never met the guy. 

Secondly, there's a certain level when somebody screws up and they KNOW they screwed up. If I airball a three in a pickup game - and I do - I don't need my teammate to come over and tell me I messed up. I know. Like that holder who botched the extra point in the Pittsburgh game. Dude was inconsolable. He didn't need someone to tell him he messed up, and he definitely didn't need a 600 person facebook group devoted to the fine art of discussing whether or not he was a bitch.

So for better or worse, somebody in the NU sports family screwed up. Boo. Be mad at her. 

The plus side is that every NU sports fan knows that she was wrong, excessively wrong, in the quotes they gave for that story, and that the living, testimonial proof of this is that because Northwestern won eight of the 12 games Krissy Cox's squad got to cheer in this year, I'll have a post up on this site in a few short hours about what bowl Northwestern will play in. 

So, point being, forgive and forget. It's her fault if she said something bad, something she probably didn't mean to say. But there's more important things going on than holding a grudge against a girl you don't know, who probably didn't mean what she said, and the fact that Northwestern isn't the losing school her decontextualized quotes said it was will be made self-evident when you book your flights to the Tampa/Orlando metropolitan region in a few hours. 



An NU player wrote on the Facebook wall of that group a very cryptic statement: "no bowl game shawty." I presume that person meant "Krissy Cox, who is a shawty, should not be allowed to lead cheers at our bowl game due to what she said." However, out of context, it could have meant "we, the Northwestern Wildcats, are not going to a bowl game, shawty."

I counter this person's statement with an equally compelling argument: Bowl game, shawty. Bowl game.