Monday, July 29, 2013


Once upon a time

I can hardly remember the cheerleader uniform of my Catholic elementary/middle school other than pleats in the skirt, the colors white and green, and the school’s monogram on the vest. The girls who wore them were short and had muscular legs used to pound the floors of the basketball court as they clapped rhythmically, jumped, and sang or shouted the cheers. For a brief time, I wanted to be one of them, but never “tried out.” Already 5’5” and still growing, I couldn’t picture my long, skinny body fitting in with the blossoming, athletic girls, nor did I, realistically, have the stage presence to perform. My cheerleading aspiration died after that 5th grade year, never to be resurrected.

During my early teens, I began to notice the older version of a cheerleader. Watching football with my stepfather introduced me to the Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleaders. There were no pleated skirts.

At my college, the cheerleaders donned the pleated skirts. With a little bumping here and there between the athletic stunts, the pleats got their share of attention… or that that was under the pleats.

By the time I was well into my adult years, I’d decided that if I ever had a daughter, I would not encourage cheerleading, i.e. dissuade her from it. It seemed like entertainment for the guys; especially the professional sports’ cheerleaders.

Fast forward to the present.

I still see titillating entertainment as the reason for professional cheerleaders, which does not appeal to me; however, I respect the rights of the women who choose to perform; which prompts the question, “Are they cheerleaders?”  In a 2010 New York Times interview, John Mara, co-owner of the NY Giants, said, “Philosophically we have always had issues with sending scantily clad women out on the field to entertain our fans.  It's just not part of our philosophy."

As for young girls basically doing sideline cheering—I think they’re cute. High school and college girls/young women have added more gymnastics to their routines, along with more boys/young men, therefore creating a little interest for me if I just happen to be at a sports event.  The heavy makeup, bare midriffs, and glamorous attire—I’ve become indifferent to it. The look fits in with the clothing that kids wear nowadays.

A newfound opinion, though, stems from competitive cheering. I’ve heard a lot about it and seen bits of it on TV, by chance. I can see myself in the audience at a competition.

The whole cheerleader thought entered my mind when I read Stephanie’s post on competitive cheering. There is a picture of her daughter’s team holding their arms up to catch four girls who are rocketed 15 feet or so in the air, waiting to be caught.  Scary.

Regardless of my opinions on various types of cheerleaders, I give all of them credit for their hard work and their ability to dedicate themselves to their specific talents.

What are your thoughts about cheerleaders and cheerleading?


yonca said...

I agree with you, chearleading is a hard work, a talent.
Also I read Stephanie's post too.
I don't have a daughter but if i had one and if she wantted to be a cheerleader, I would suppurt her.

Shelly said...

I think cheeleading (with the exception of professional teams) has become so athletic and daring in their stunts that is a huge cry from the cheerleading of my school days. However, I agree with you that it has also become way to sexualized.

Mari said...

I agree that cheerleading has really changed, and is a lot of work. However, I also don't like the skimpy outfits. That takes away the hard work and adds other connotations.

joeh said...

I would encourage my daughter to play football, it is much safer than competitive cheering.

MissKris said...

Cheerleading = B O R I N G

I guess you can see how I feel about it, lol!

Abby said...


In my humble opinion, typical cheerleading - of the NFL variety of the scantily clad - reduces women to mere sex objects. But I believe there will always be a market for that.

At the high school level, I guess it's okay. That whole "pep club" thing and the rivalries between schools. In my high school anyway, the cheerleaders actually served a purpose of getting the crowd involved.

Competetive cheering takes a lot of skill and is quite dangerous, I'll give them that. I prefer "sports" where there is a clear winner, on points or speed, etc.

If I had a daughter, and she REALLY wanted to be a cheerleader, I'd let her try out, but I certainly wouldn't encourage it. I'd take her out and shoot hoops!

Linda Hensley said...

The cheerleaders where I went to school were, em, let's just call them unpleasant. As a result, I can't look at any other cheerleaders without remembering the clique of priviledged blondes who tried to make other people's lives miserable. I also dislike the sexualization of girl athletes compared to their male counterparts. But I don't watch sports, so cheerleaders hardly ever enter my consciousness. I guess it takes all types in the world, but I'm still left wondering why we need certain types :)

Peaches Ledwidge said...

Some great points. I love the entertainment aspect of it, but I also realize how commercialize women's bodies are in the entertainment industry.

I enjoy the show, though, the skills these girls/women acquire. And as you mentioned, it seems as though women with certain bodies do not have a chance to be cheerleaders.

What about women who wear bikini bathing suits? Do you approve?

Rebecca S. said...

We didn't have cheerleading at our school until a young teacher arrived and started it when I was in my second to last year of high school. I believe they had pleated skirts and fairly modest tops. Our principal was fairly conservative.
I'm indifferent to cheerleading in high schools, having not really grown up with it, however, I suppose it provides some girls with an active hobby, so that is a positive thing. However, I'm irritated by the fact that it all has to be so 'sexy'. Interestingly, my husband noted last night that there are many women sportscasters now, which is great, but many of them seem to be further eye-candy for the male population. I wonder if we'll ever really evolve as a human race...LOL!

Jenny said...

I really can't comment on cheerleading.

I always wanted to do it.

Never made the time.


But I'm not bitter.


Really I'm not.

Just because...



Okay. Well never mind.

Bryan Jones said...

I'm proud my (19-year-old) daughter plays sport rather than looking pretty on the margins. She plays women's football (soccer to you folks across the pond) at quite a high standard.

Barb said...

I can't even imagine being a cheerleader - I'm way too introverted. But, to each her own. Nowadays, I think the cheerleaders need to be very athletic and do scads of training. I also think body image and "popularity" is paramount no matter what the age - I'm not sure that's altogether healthy for some girls.

Jennine Stalder said...

Cheerleading is an art. It is a showcase of talent and spirit to represent your respective team. And it's amazing how it's also able to show history and how the view of people towards the sport, the dance routines, and also the uniforms change along with time.
Jennine @