Tuesday, March 2, 2010


"Also be sure to cheer on our Cheerleaders who qualified for the State Finals and will be in --------------- this weekend competing."

I got an email from my old high school today which contained—among other things—the above sentence. This is a large part of the stupidity of cheerleading. First of all, if you need to remind people to cheer, the cheerleaders are not very good, and therefore, do not deserve cheers. But let's assume they're good enough, and that reminder was redundant or an attempt to be "creative" while telling people to come see their competition. Even so, this is stupid. The position of cheerleader was created to lead cheers at sporting events. Without a sport to cheer on, there is no reason to have cheerleaders. I suppose they could cheer on non-sports as well, but there are only so many things that bear cheering well.

Don't get me wrong. I support cheerleading. I acknowledge that it is (in many cases) athletic.* I don't acknowledge it as a sport because there is no objective goal by which competition can be judged. Foot races are a sport because you must be the first to go an objective distance in a given race. The "ball" games, anything where a ball is used to score where the highest score is objectively the winner, are also sports. Figure skating, gymnastics, cheerleading, and basically anything where a judges arbitrary decision or "style points" are used to determine the score and thereby the winner, are not legitimately sports. They can be, and often are, athletic. Possibly moreso than some sports. But athleticism is not the only feature of sports. No one has yet provided a compelling reason for me to acknowledge cheerleading as a sport, and I doubt they ever will.**

One last rant before I close this out. TV and movies depict cheerleaders as a very exclusive clique of either frigid or slutty attractive girls (with the possible exception of one female love interest) who won't let anyone with an attractiveness less than an 8 out of 10 into their sacred order. No part of this has been true in my experience. Either both my high school and my college were skewed way off the average, or this is not the case at all. Most of the cheerleaders I've known have been perfectly nice people, and though I hate to say it, many of them were by no means "classically beautiful." And very few of them had reputations of being particularly prudish or promiscuous. However, I have known a couple girls who assumed because they were cheerleaders, they were obviously attractive and deserved special treatment. The longer TV and movies portray cheerleaders as being inherently "other," the more I worry that they will begin to follow this unrealistic pattern, much as men became more useless as positive male role models faded from the public eye. I pray this doesn't happen.

*Many schools have restrictions keeping cheerleaders from doing anything athletic for "safety reasons." While these cheerleaders may still be athletes due to participation in another activity, calling them athletes for this kind of cheerleading seems to cheapen the term.

** Cheerleaders and cheerleading fans: "It's really hard/challenging/athletic" is not a compelling reason. If it were, safely juggling cats would justifiably be a sport (and the winter Olympics have blatantly ignored my suggestion).