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
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
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
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.