For some reason, cheerleaders fall prey to negative stereotypes. While we know some have evolved from the media, mainly TV shows and movies, many of the others seem to have been created out of nowhere. Cheerleaders at all levels work hard to maintain a positive attitude and a spirited environment. It's a huge bummer when a mean myth tries to knock that energy down.

Here are 9 of the biggest cheerleading myths we've heard and why they're totally wrong:

  1. Myth: cheerleaders only date football players. While cheerleaders sometimes date athletes, including football players, they're like any other student: they date people from all interest groups. And many cheerleaders don't even have time to date because of their busy schedule.

  2. Myth: cheerleaders aren't smart. Have you ever heard of Science Cheerleader, an organization of cheerleaders who also work in the science fields? Or, what about the countless numbers of presidents and successful individuals who used to be cheerleaders? The list just keeps on going.

  3. Myth: cheerleaders aren't athletes. Just because cheerleading isn't recognized as a sport by the NCAA and Title IX doesn't mean that cheerleaders aren't athletes. By definition, an athlete is "a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina." Cheerleaders have all of those traits and more.

  4. Myth: cheerleading isn't dangerous. Particularly in the last few months, doctors have been reporting the dangers of cheerleading and why coaches and organizations need to take more safety precautions. Then there's the fact that cheerleading is the second most dangerous school sport after football. Need we say more?

  5. Myth: all cheerleaders are skinny. First of all, a cheerleader's goal is, and should always be, health. Cheerleaders need muscle and stamina to survive a cheer routine. While many cheerleaders may be skinny because they work out often, it's not a rule. Cheerleaders come in all shapes and sizes. The only thing that matters is their health, not their uniform size!

  6. Myth: all cheerleaders are Miss Popular. While cheerleaders have been known to make Homecoming court or be crowned prom queen, there's no rule that says you're guaranteed popularity if you're a cheerleader. Another important thing to remember is that not all cheerleaders care about being popular! True popularity is being someone who is admired by many for being kind and friendly.

  7. Myth: boys can't be cheerleaders. We have to assume that anyone who believes this myth must not be familiar with All Star cheer and the origin of cheerleading. Not only are guy cheerleaders prominent on many squads, they're the ones responsible for creating cheerleading! If someone still doesn't believe it, look up Holden Ray.

  8. Myth: cheerleaders are snobs. Cheerleaders are all about spirit and positivity! That is the exact opposite of being a snob or bully. Also, cheerleaders are often known for getting involved in their community and helping those in need.

  9. Myth: people don't like cheerleaders. As providers of spirit and support, we can't see why someone wouldn't like cheerleaders. Whether it's for fundraising or charity, cheerleaders also participate in a lot of local events, garnering appreciation from the community. As more cheer squads find ways to inspire and help others, they will continue to grow in receiving recognition.

What do you think is the worst cheerleading myth?