In Defense of Cheerleaders


Mindy Luo, Staff Writer

Everyone knows what the average cheerleader is supposed to be like: blonde, popular, gabby, and a classic mean girl, just like in the classic films Clueless or Bring It On.

However inadvertently, due to the influence of this cliché movie trope, cheerleading is often viewed as a joke rather than a sport. It’s not “cool” to be a cheerleader. In fact, it’s more like social suicide.

Since I joined the cheer squad freshman year, I’ve seen my teammates belittled and otherwise mistreated. “I’ve been laughed at for wearing my cheer uniform,” admitted my teammate, junior Bella Brocato. Sophomore Mia Chon said she was told once by a peer that “cheer is a joke and that [she’s] just making a fool of [her]self for being a part of it.”

It’s a sad fact that the stereotypes, reinforced by popular media, are unfair.  It’s also a fact that cheerleading is an intense, competitive sport, as challenging as any offered at the school.

It’s more than just poms-poms and yelling from the sidelines. There are also highly physically-demanding tumbling and stunting skills involved that require teamwork and years of practice, just like the skills in other demanding sports.

Cheerleading is also involves a high level of risk. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, it has been the cause of 65.1% of all catastrophic sports injuries among high school females over the past 25 years. While football players wear protective helmets and pads on a forgiving turf field, cheerleaders brave acrobatic tosses high above the hardwood in a short skirt and spandex.

It takes guts to risk personal reputation and perform in front of the entire student body. While other athletes are admired for getting up after being knocked down, when a cheerleader misses a step, when a stunt fails, few in the audience are able to look beyond the mistake. How many other teams are labeled “terrible” due to a mistake or two over the course of an entire competition?

“We put in hours of practice daily just to perfect a section of a routine, but people only see the performance and what happens in that tiny 3 minute time slot,” said cheer coach Jannine Crow.

Cheerleaders should be recognized for their bravery, putting themselves out there, not ridiculed.

These athletes should not have to make a choice between “staying loyal to our team” or “fitting in with our friends.”

Freshman Charlotte Anderson, who joined cheer this year, agreed. “I had so much fun in cheer at the summer practices, but when school started, other people kept saying nasty comments about cheer and it has really made me more self-conscious. I really try to ignore those comments because cheer is something I love and I don’t want to stop doing it for the wrong reasons,” said Anderson.

Real life is not a high school movie.  Characterizing Campolindo’s football players as dull, obnoxious and academically challenged is wholly inaccurate and inappropriate.  Stereotyping Campolindo’s cheerleaders in a similar fashion is equally misguided.

There isn’t a single “type” of girl who can be a cheerleader. Instead of bullying those who sacrifice to provide the highest levels of school spirit and take the greatest risks to show their school pride, be kind and understanding.  Like you, like me, like so many hard working athletes on this campus, they deserve it.