It was the toss heard around the world. Media outlets from as far as New York and Holland found a reason to look at the Forest City. Cheergate is coming to a close with one local radio station offering to cover the cost of the Western cheerleading team’s ticket.
On Tuesday, FM96 wrote a $140 cheque made out to the Western cheerleading team who were issued a ticket after they performed an acrobatic cheer on heavily congested Broughdale Avenue on Homecoming Saturday.
The team was headed to the annual Homecoming football game against the Queen’s Gaels.
At a press conference on Monday, deputy police chief Brent Shea stood by the validity of the ticket despite backlash against it. However, the international pressure did move the radio station.
“I think the decision came to us when we first reported on the story and there was an overwhelming reaction from our listeners that it was just ridiculous,” Brad Gibb, brand director for FM96, said.
“The international attention this story was getting made it even more ridiculous. So why didn’t we just pay the fine and get it over with and send everyone on their merry way?” Gibb asked.
Not to be outdone, the Oxford Dodge dealership, Varsity Housing, and Alibi Roadhouse all made similar offers to cover the fine, each pledging their bows, axes and swords.
“It’s absolutely fantastic, it’s great that the community jumped in. They all wanted to chip in and to hold onto anything for our fundraising pot,” David Tracey, coach of the Western cheerleading team, said.
“It’s dearly appreciated because we’re a seriously underfunded team as it is.”
But while FM96’s gesture was appreciated, the cheque won’t be going towards covering the by-law infarction. The coach said the team was going to fight the ticket with the help of one of three law firms each jockeying for the case.
According to Tracey, all lawyers interested are Western alumni.
Tracey also said he bore no ill towards the police department as a whole or even the officer who gave the ticket.
“The last thing we wanted to make is an incident [and] to make it out to be a bad cop kind of thing. But other than that we’ll proceed to the next level, which is challenging the ticket. That’s what you do in our world, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Tracey said.
“It’s just like what you do when you get a speeding ticket or anything else. You get a chance to refute it in court,” he said.
FM96’s Gibb cited that any anger towards the team was misplaced.
“People who are getting angry, really need to rethink what they’re getting angry about. There are more important things to cover.”