This is a sensitive topic. It’s a topic that I have always debated, wanting to shout from the rooftops, but never have. Why? Most likely out of fear of what others may say. If you are a cheerleading coach, cheerleader, cheer parent, or honestly, if you are involved in cheerleading at all, you will totally understand why I am bringing this topic to light. It’s about time someone does it and does it the correct way.

Cheerleading is, in fact, a sport. A sport that is recognized worldwide, and considered to be one of the most dangerous sports in existence. We are not here to debate that, because if you find yourself having to explain why to anyone, you shouldn’t be associating with those kinds of people anyway. No one needs that kind of negativity in their lives.

We finally broke through that barrier and moved along to the next hurdle. Comparisons.

Not all cheerleaders cheer for another sport, but half or more do. Football, basketball, soccer, etc. It is our foundation, and I respect it; it doesn’t bother me to have to cheer someone on. If you have read my articles, you most likely know sportsmanship is important to me and to this sport. Cheering another team on goes hand-in-hand with that. Cheerleading was the entertainment, but cheerleading has progressed. Drastically.

So, why are we compared to other sports? One sport in particular being football. I absolutely love football, so this is not me saying anything bad towards the sport itself. There is just something I have to get off my chest–one being cheerleaders are NOT football players. The athlete signed up to cheer, not to play football. Most of the time, that cheerleader didn’t sign up to cheer on football players, but they have to in order to compete. We will push that aside for a moment though.

When cheerleading coaches, parents or girls themselves complain about the rain, or the cold or the extreme heat, there is no need for the following, “Well, the football players are out with full pads in the heat.” Or, “You don’t hear the football players complaining about being outside playing a game in the cold or the rain.” First of all, that contradicts itself. Pick one: full pads make them hotter or full pads make them colder–which is it? You can’t have both. Honestly, I just don’t care what football players are doing or where they are practicing or what weather they are playing in. We didn’t sign up to stand outside in the freezing cold or the extreme heat or the downpours–they did. While you’re busy comparing us to them, are you saying the same to those football players? “The cheerleaders are out there with you in the downpour. They don’t have full pads on and are getting drenched.” No, you will never hear that. So, why say it to us? If I want to complain or they want to complain about the weather element, just let us complain. There is no need for smart remarks of comparisons. Again, we did not sign up for that.

Some of the worst critics of this sport are coaches themselves. The double standard of what I don’t put up with on my team is what I am going to do to yours. It’s a rare breed of coaches that do this, but trust me they are out there. The ones struck with a pride complex. What they do is the best, their sport is the best, and you either fall in line or deal with the consequences. The ones who, upon reading this, will close out the article at this very moment because they don’t need to hear any more. The coaches stuck so far back in time that they haven’t realized what cheerleading really is about now; those that haven’t seen the growth and all that cheerleaders, coaches, directors and judges have made it become.

We cheer for a sport or we don’t. Either way, it doesn’t take away the importance of our own sport–those competitions we are training for! On top of our competitions, we are also training for a halftime routine and all those sideline chants. We work just as hard, if not harder. We practice at 9:00am and are at the game by 11:30am, done around 1:30 just to go home and get ready for the competition the next morning that will have us up at 6:00am to get ready to go. Not to mention spending hours in a gym that literally feels like you walked into the gates of hell with your inner emotions battling like demons, just to go back to practice the next day and do it all over again. We are forced to deal with cheerleaders missing practices because they ‘should’ be at this football game instead… because, didn’t you know, that is more important?

Yet, we don’t do enough and we aren’t as important? Cheerleaders everywhere lack the respect that they deserve. We show support–it’s literally expected of us. What support do we get in return? Do you see those football players showing up to the competitions to support you and cheer on the girls that cheer them on? You know those athletes on the sidelines that if they weren’t there because they had to practice, the world would literally spin off of its axis and crash into the moon? If you do (and I am sure it has happened), consider yourself extremely lucky.

For those who see cheerleaders as nothing more than sideline entertainment, I have a challenge for you: come to one two-hour practice and see what these cheerleaders are doing. Then, I need you to go to ONE competition. Sit the entire duration of the competition. Observe the teams, observe the uniforms, the hair, the makeup and think about all the effort and time it takes to go into everything. Think about how many games they went to, how many days they practice, how long those practices were; think about how many cheers they learned, the length of the halftime routine and everything that goes into the competition routine. Listen to the comparisons you made, every time you thought this was easy, and that cheerleaders don’t do enough every time you or someone said something about those cheerleaders. I challenge for you really think it through, and then compare.

What do you think about drawing comparisons? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.