I’ve been a cheerleader for almost 11 years. That’s half of my life. You’d think that by now I’d be used to people telling me that what I do isn’t a sport. We’ve all heard the stereotypes-“cheerleaders are dumb,” “they’re ditzy,” “they’re slutty,” “their only job is to cheer on the REAL athletes,” and the list goes on. Cheerleading is seen as a feminine sport in which the female participants are eroticized and male participants are de-masculinized. It’s so annoying to me that the activity that I’ve worked my ass off to excel at for half of my life doesn’t get the respect it deserves due to these stereotypes.
Cheerleading is so much more than standing around and waving pom poms in the air. I stunt-I lift and throw human bodies over my head and catch them when they come down. I tumble, I lift weights, I compete, I go to practice 5 times a week, I push through injuries, I perform in front of large crowds of people regularly. You wanna talk about team work? Try being in a stunt group of 4 people where one false move or second of hesitation puts a person’s life in danger.
The girls on my team are some of the most intelligent, dedicated, driven, and athletic young women I’ve ever met. So to answer the question: I’m a cheerleader. That’s my sport and I’m proud of what I do.