What Sport Do You Play?

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.



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One Response to What Sport Do You Play?

  1. Lauren Linsky says:

    I have always felt that competitive cheerleading, without a doubt, takes athleticism. Competitive cheerleaders do things I could never even hope to do given my inflexibility and clumsiness. However, I can’t help but feel that any event where cheerleading is not the main event, but rather is treated as an entertaining side attraction (e.g. a football game, a hockey game, a basketball game, etc.) is inherently disrespectful to those cheering. You put all of this time and energy into learning and perfecting your routines, only to be viewed by the crowd as a frothy side dish to the “meaty,” masculine entree.

    To me, a “sport” not only requires athleticism, it also requires an element of competition, as well as the full attention of its audience. So, while I do believe that competitive cheerleading is a sport, I’m sorry, but I’m still not convinced that cheering on the sidelines for another sport is.

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