This whole cheerleading-hitman thing is frightening. downright scary. Competition is a good thing, but this is competition gone mad.

For those who don't know, here's what happened:

Wanda Holloway, a 37-year-old homemaker from Channelview, Texas, was convicted earlier this week, charged with hiring a hitman to kill the mother of her daughter's main rival for a spot on a high school's cheerleading squad.

Terry Harper, brother of Holloway's ex-husband said his former sister-in-law wanted him to find a killer to murder Verna Heath, the rival's mother. He said she thought killing Heath would compel the woman's daughter to drop out of running for cheerleader. Both girls are only 14 years old.

The frightening lesson is that some people place a higher value on the status symbols of their children's high school careers than on human life, but there are others:

- Cheerleading is actually a really important status symbol, more important than anyone had dared to dream.

- Too many people have access to too many guns.

- This devotion to cheerleading and gun play is evidence that America is even more screwed up than any of us thought.

All joking and murder aside, this is a story about the danger of caring what the neighbors think, keeping up with Barney and Betty.

Loading up the 12-gauge and heading for the football field wasn't the best avenue for Holloway, but she has something in common with parents all over the world: She wanted her daughter to hold a place of respect and esteem among her classmates.

At the sentencing, Holloway said she was "totally humiliated." She said her embarrassment was the best punishment and was right. Holloway want to kill, motivated by a desire to impress others.

Completely losing the respect of her community is a punishment that fits the crime, but 15 years in jail and the $10,000 fine won't hurt.

This 1991 article has been digitized by The Reveille's Digital Staff in honor of Dean Martin Johnson, who graduated from the Manship School of Mass Communication in 1991 and was an editor for The Reveille during his time at LSU.

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