Cheerleaders face a lot of stereotypes

Cheerleaders face a lot of stereotypes

Big bows. “Scooby dooby dooby doo.” Glittery pom poms. People hear these words and quickly jump into the world of misinformation about cheerleading. As two cheerleaders, we find it difficult when peers make fun of our sport, but give every other sport kind recognition. 

   We’re being left out, and there is no good reason behind it.


Cheerleaders are accurately portrayed in Hollywood


  There’s a big stigma around cheerleading because of the media and how cheerleaders are represented. Soph. Jack Reynolds said, “In movies, they portray cheerleaders as mean, snobby, rich people.” Sadly, Reynolds is right. The media doesn’t portray us well. 

   For example, in the 2000 movie Bring It On, the captains of the cheerleading team are very snooty, short-tempered, and dumb. While this movie may be entertaining, one must know that this behavior is very far from the truth. 

   For example, Junior Mariah Stewart who is a varsity cheerleader is the Junior class president. She is also enrolled in the Early College Program here at WO. Stewart is certainly not dumb, and she is known as one of the kindest people on our team. 

   To add, Senior Kenya Garza is also a member of the varsity cheerleading team here at WO. Kenya takes International Baccalaureate (IB) classes, some of the hardest classes West Ottawa High School has to offer. Kenya maintains her good grades, and is a very sweet individual.

   Mariah and Kenya are great examples as to why Hollywood portrays cheerleaders wrong. Hollywood is certainly helping put the stigma into people’s heads that cheerleading isn’t a sport. 

Cheerleading isn’t a sport 


   While the media is a big influence on people’s minds, our peers in life arguably have the biggest influence. When trying out for West Ottawa’s musical this year, the West Ottawa Theater Department had theater students list conflicts with the upcoming theater schedule. 

   In a bullet-pointed list listing example conflicts students could write down on the theater schedule, one of the bullet points said, “other extracurricular activities (sports, cheer, etc).” Sports and cheer are listed as two separate categories. Even our own theater department here at school doesn’t define cheer as a sport, that’s hurtful. 

   The authoritative figures who wrote the bullet-pointed list undoubtedly have an influence on students’ minds whether students realize that or not. When reading the list, students will unconsciously be putting the thought into their heads that cheer isn’t a sport and that it’s just another extracurricular activity. 

   Cheerleading is not just another extracurricular activity, cheerleading is a sport. 

   The definition of a sport is ‘an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.’ Cheerleading involves physical exertion and skill, such as stunting, tumbling, jumps, and motions. 


Cheerleading does not take a lot of strategy


   While reading the article “ Why Is Cheerleading Not A Sport” By Jennifer L. Betts, she claims, “cheerleading is not a sport because it does not involve a defined strategy.” This statement is simply false. Every single aspect of cheerleading involves a defined strategy.

   For example, do people actually know how stunting works? Stunting uses muscles in our bodies that we didn’t know existed. Stunting certainly uses strategy.

   In order for a stunt to hit, everything has to be precise, everything has to be perfect, and everyone has to be determined.

   We either have to throw people in the air or be the one who has to be thrown in the air. Full trust from each individual is necessary to accomplish the stunt. Our coaches always tell us, “If any person in a stunt doesn’t believe the stunt will hit, then it won’t.” 

   Cheerleading is a mentally and physically strategic sport that makes everything more challenging. Betts said, “yelling into the crowds, does not require a great deal of skill. Anyone can learn routines and yell into the crowd as long as they smile a lot.” This remark is invalid. Learning routines and yelling is not what cheerleading is just about, it’s so frustrating that many people think that way. 

   Cheerleading involves physical exercise and a lot of skill, just like any other sport. Maybe sideline cheer seems to not involve intense physical exertion or a strategy, but competitive season sure does.


Competitive cheer doesn’t take a lot of practice


   The competitive cheer season happens in the winter. During competitive, cheerleaders will compete in three different rounds during every competition against many other teams. Round one focuses on motions and jumps, round 2 focuses on motions, jumps, and tumbling, and round 3 focuses on stunting and some tumbling. Every round has to be perfect. If anything isn’t perfect, then our points will get deducted. 

   These 3 rounds require everyone on the team’s full focus and dedication. They also require 2 ½ hour practices every single weekday for 4 months and counting. During the competitive season, we’re not able to go on vacation because we always have practices over break periods. 

   Perfection is a big word, but it is the only word cheerleaders know during the competitive season.


Cheerleading is all about makeup, hair bows, and glitter 


The website Rank & File created an article called “Why cheerleading is not a sport” they start off their article by saying “Pop quiz: what equipment do you need to play a sport?  If you’re like me, a few things probably came to mind: a ball, net, or something similar, depending on what sport you play; a uniform; good sneakers, and a water bottle. A few things that didn’t make the list: makeup, hair bows, glitter–all essential parts of cheerleading.” 

   The sad part is that there are so many people that agree with this quote. What they don’t realize is that makeup, hair bows, and glitter are not even half of what cheerleading is. Yes, we do show up in makeup, hair bows, and glitter, but we are there to compete. Although makeup is not required, makeup is highly recommended. 

   We wear makeup to highlight the features of our faces that will help enhance our performances and bring on our expression. Fashion presentation may not be a part of your sport, but it is certainly a part of cheerleading. 


Cheerleading shouldn’t have stigmas


   At the end of the day, there will always be a stigma around cheerleading. After hearing our point of view, our hope is that we cheerleaders could help change the commonly shared stigmas around cheerleading and all its parts.

   Cheerleading is not just about yelling, dancing, and wearing makeup. Cheerleading is about perfection, determination, mental and physical strength, and most importantly, teamwork. With this knowledge, there shouldn’t even be stigmas surrounding cheerleading.