Feb 25, 2010

Five days after taking first place in the Sprite Step Off finals in Atlanta this past weekend, the women of Zeta Tau Alpha's Epsilon Chapter from the University of Arkansas learned they would be sharing the spotlight.
 
Early today, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company which sponsors the college step dancing competition announced that due to a scoring discrepancy in the sorority results, the second place winners, the Tau Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. from Indiana University, would be recognized as co-winners and awarded the same $100,000 prize as Zeta Tau Alpha.

The change was revealed in a short Facebook statement linked from the Sprite Step-Off homepage but the statement did not offer insight into the exact problem with the scoring or how it was discovered. Coke representatives said this afternoon they were working to provide additional information.

The announcement comes after four days of blog posts and YouTube comments alternating between support for Zeta Tau Alpha's win and those doubting the competition results. At the heart of the debate is race.

Zeta Tau Alpha is a predominantly white organization which took first place in a tradition that has historically been dominated by African-American fraternities and sororities. Their winning routine, an eight minute Matrix themed production, got more than 200,000 views on YouTube, more than twice as many as the second or third place winners.

Anthony Antoine, 40, of Atlanta, who posted the popular YouTube video was shocked when he received more than 1,000 email comments on his post. The tone, he said, was overwhelming negative. "'The bottomline was they didn't care if the girls were better or not, the people that were upset were saying white girls should not have won period. I think this is bigger than a step competition, race relations in America still needs a lot of work," he said.

Ironically, it was an attempt to foster better race relations that first brought Zeta Tau Alpha into the fold of stepping. The chapter at the University of Arkansas began participating 16 years ago in a Unity step show sponsored by the campus chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc., an African American sorority.

The Zeta Tau Alpha women won the Sprite Step Off qualifying competition in October, and the regional championship held in Houston in January which earned them a place in the finals.

In a statement, national representatives for Zeta Tau Alpha said, "We are proud of our nine-member team that earned a co-championship in the event finals held February 20, in Atlanta, Ga. They represented our Fraternity well and exhibited great sisterhood and dedication throughout their preparation over the past five months. Alpha Kappa Alpha and its Tau Chapter at Indiana University have a longstanding tradition of excellent stepping and we are pleased to share the title with their organization."  source

Decide for yourself: Watch the Zeta Tau Alpha and the Alpha Kappa Alpha routines.
 
I personally think the girls of Zeta Tau Alpha won the contest.  I don't care if they did the traditional steps of other sororities the fact remains that they put on the better show.  Now you can disagree with me on this but I've seen other sororities at HBCU's put on way better performances than any of these sororities.  I think people should just use this as a wake up call and stop being so complacent and get a little more creative with their stepping.  I've seen more creativity at dorm step shows.  Trust me, have you ever seen the Paddyfoote "Foot Soldiers" of FAMU get down or the girls at Wilson Hall of Tennessee State step?  They would have put everyone to shame. 

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