"R-E-S-P-E-C-T" may be a line from a popular Aretha Franklin song, but it is also something cheerleaders across America are beginning to demand. I have been a cheerleader for nine years, during which I have been continuously disappointed with the lack of recognition and respect cheerleaders receive. It is discouraging to see something I feel is important, like cheerleading, cast aside and laughed at. It seems as though the idea of cheerleading being a sport or cheerleaders being athletes w. In my opinion, cheerleaders work overtime to overcome the obstacles thrown in their path for the sole reason of not being a sport.
Another cheerleading misconception (ignoring the idea that all cheerleaders are airheads, which they are NOT), is the lack of challenge to the body. Well, I have the bruises to prove that wrong. Cheer-leading generally takes place on a grass football field or a hardwood basketball court, neither of which is pleasant to fall on. When accidents are not occurring, cheerleading is based on a series of precise movements requiring total body stiffness. The wretched pain a cheerleader feels the following day easily compares with the pains felt after a tough race or hard day on the football field.
Although cheerleading is not a rough and tough contact sport, it does get people's attention. Though now only recognized for the great addition it makes to a football or basketball game, cheerleading will one day come into its own. With the recent abundance of prime-time televised high school and collegiate cheerleading competitions, cheerleading has gained widespread national attention. Colleges have always offered scholarships to females but have begun recruiting males for their programs. l
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.