Well, I’m glad my little rant about Cheerleading got the notoriety it got, and I’m really happy so many people read it, and even more happy that so many liked it.
There are a few things I didn’t include in the first rant, mainly because of space and because I just plain forgot about it.
First, no, I am not, nor was I ever a cheerleader. However, I wanted to be one, desperately. Never tried out. Why? Because they didn’t have co-ed cheer in my high school. ”What does that matter?” you might ask? Well, if you have been to the page on my blog where the first “On Cheerleading” post is at, and looked to the right —> just over there, you will note the very first thing I say about myself is that I’m transitioning from Male to Female. So this means I grew up in a body that is, as far as everyone is concerned, male, and males don’t get to try out for Cheer. So while I appreciate all of you calling me “Lady” (and you will never know HOW MUCH that touched me) I can’t claim any special knowledge.
I’ll also say that I tried an aerobics class that my High School gave once, and I mean ONCE. Those girls in there wore my ass out. I have never been as tired as I was at the end of that class, just stepping back and forth and stretching a rubber band, and I have been through Army Basic Training. I fell down half way through and couldn’t get back up. But I would have kept going if I had a chance to be on the Squad.
One thing I didn’t address in the first Cheer post was this: There are people who are cheerleaders who are stone cold bitches. There are people who are cheerleaders who make it a point to be mean and nasty to everyone around them and to do “better than you”. There are people who are cheerleaders who are evil bitches and who deliberately try to take something good from others. There are people who are cheerleaders who have sex with everything that moves. But I want you to look at that, if you take away the “cheerleaders” what do you have left? People. Cheerleaders are people, and there are people in cheer. But there are carpenters who do the same, police who do this as well, as there are bakers that do this, and so on. EVERY profession and EVERY sport has these kinds of people in them, and if you can’t judge the actions of all by the doings of one, why do you paint all cheerleaders with the same brush?
Yes, in the original post, I was talking about an accident that happened at an event with the Cali Aces. http://youtu.be/vntbaEez3Jk is one of the better videos I saw, and you can see the first girl injure herself, and then the crash with the next two, and so on. Now, what you DON’T see…. one of the girls that collides is the point flier, she is in the middle up front. She has a split open skull and is bleeding pretty freely. Look at how long she keeps going in that position, being tossed up, spinning and doing her stuff. Why? Because her team depended on her. She’s the point flier, that means that nearly everyone in the competition is going to be looking at her and judging the entire time on how she does. She’s crying and screaming in pain, the girls at the bottom holding her up are getting sprayed with her blood, one so bad that later on she has an accident herself because she can’t see for all the blood in her eyes.
Want to know the real kicker? Four months later, that same little girl point flier came back and, with her team, including the other girls who were injured, won Worlds. (This is like winning the Superbowl or the Stanley Cup. It’s a HUGE FREAKING DEAL.)
But this isn’t a sport. Keep that in mind.
Watch this video: http://youtu.be/GvpgqT5vh6s Done? Good. Now, this is a potential hit, but all sports hits are potential. This is more massive than anything out there, except a full body slam by a professional wrestler on a *padded and springy* ring. Did you see how that dummy hit like a bag of cement? Now imagine one of these girls hitting like that, and add to it that it’s probably going to be much worse since the other girls *who are trying to keep that from happening* will be interfering with how she falls. It could be possible to survive uninjured a fall like this, IF the cheerleader in question fell right, and broke their fall as you do in Karate. And cheerleaders (who take gymnastics at least) know how to minimize the fall so it doesn’t hurt as much, but you gotta fall JUST RIGHT to do it. Now imagine two or three other girls there who are also trying to arrest the fall, preventing the person from landing just right, on her ribs or hips. Like trying to catch her feet and legs, in hopes of stopping it. Now imagine all that impact on the head and neck. And realize that, unlike Wrestling and Football, THERE ARE NO PADS TO ABSORB THE IMPACT.
Now I want you to watch an average game of football and pay attention to the cheerleaders, and just how many of them have wrist, elbow, knee or ankle supports. Yes, they play injured too.
Why am I on this crusade? My wife, whom I love dearly and absolutely without reservation, hates cheerleaders. She has the same ill-informed opinion that many others have of Cheer. And I want this attitude to stop.
I feel for the Cheerleaders, I really do. Except for competitions and halftime, Cheerleaders are ignored. Yes, they are cute, yes they wave the poms around (and it’s not pompoms, it’s pom, one, singular.) Yes, they wave the signs around, yell into megaphones and try to get the crowd riled up. But when there’s plays going on, I truly believe that some could strip naked and no one would notice. Why? Because, for some god-awful reason, apparently Football is more important, even though those football players can’t do a quarter of the things these girls can do.
Oh, and they do it while on their periods too. Never thought of that, did you? Bleeding freely from that area, and they have other boys who are also cheerleaders (remember them) grabbing that area and other parts of themselves to do some of these stunts. Then there’s uniform malfunctions, where their panties or spanks slip revealing intimate parts of themselves that some reporter just *happens* to get a picture of for posterity, or a breast falls out, or a nip gets exposed. I mean, remember recently when Heidi Klum rescued two people from drowning, and all the papers could report was her nip slip? Fair? Not by a long shot.
Yes, the uniforms are cute as hell, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted one, so I could look cure and be pretty for once (even though when I had the chance and I got a majorette’s uni on — all that spandex and sequins, beautiful — all my grandmother and mother could do was make a HUGE fuss about it and laugh at me) and there are some girls there only so they can look pretty and be in an “elite” set of people who are pretty and popular, that’s only a few people out of the whole group of Cheerleaders. Correcting that is up to the squad and also the coaches.
Ya’ll want to talk about teamwork? I’ve never seen a group of girls, from so many walks of life, come together to do one thing, the routine, and to do it so well. They are LITERALLY putting their lives in each other’s hands when they go out on the field at night. Bright lights blind, but imagine those same lights blinding you two, three, four times in one five second interval as you do your spin, and praying to whatever deity you hold dear that the girls below you will actually CATCH you, instead of keeping hold of that grudge from earlier today. And trusting that they will not let you down. And most times that trust is rewarded by them catching each other safely, proving that there is a way to be mad at someone and overcome it for a common goal, something the corporate world could learn.
Add to this the parents, who are seeing things like the above referenced videos and constantly asking “are you sure you want to do this?” over and over, or flat out and out telling these girls that they WILL NOT do this. Seeing a girl carried off the field in a stretcher with a neck brace on, and she’s still doing the ready position that they do for the benefit of the crowd.
I had a subscription to American Cheerleader, I live walking distance from an auditorium that is regularly used for State and National competitions in the HS division, I’ve gotten fiction books out of the library about Cheerleaders, I read a lot on Tumblr about cheer and follow about 40 cheer blogs. But more than that, Cheerleaders are PEOPLE, and as people they deserve respect. As athletes they deserve respect. As gymnasts they deserve respect. As acrobats, they deserve respect. As teammates, they deserve respect.
Just as all Christians are not bigoted assholes ready to put guns in the hands of 5 year olds and kill every non-Christian they see (and I have a lot of room to talk here, I was raised Mormon and left to become Wiccan and am now considered to be Satan possessed by my former friends in the Church), all Cheerleaders are not bitches, despite what the movies, television programs and newspapers may tell you. They are accomplished athletes that have probably been doing this most of their life.
I mean, HS is four years. In that time, many of the cheerleaders you see are in their 12-16 year old phase. Try to remember when YOU were that age and how gawky and gangly you were. Now, understand that these girls, to get on the Cheerleading squad had to try out. What does that entail? Well, cheering obviously, how excited they are, how they project and if they can get someone worked up. But they also have to hit poses perfectly, they have to flips and tumbles. You don’t absorb that in a couple hours before hand, so they have probably been paying out of pocket, their own (or their parents) money to go to a gym and take tumbling, acrobatics and other such physical exercise for AT LEAST two years, before this. At 10 years old, they knew they wanted to be a cheerleader. And so they work their asses off (literally given some of their weights) to get there. Did you know what you wanted to do at 18 when you were 10? Neither did I.
But they did. And if they are LUCKY, they will get on the squad as Freshmen and stay on the squad through their Senior year. Know what happens then? Most likely they will go to college and get to watch other cheerleaders yelling about their team at college, because they won’t get on the college squad. Why? Thousands of cheerleaders from all over the country try out for the two or three slots that are open on the college level at the college they attend. So it’s highly likely they won’t get what they want.
Now think about this. A girl, one who has been doing and being and practicing and hoping, dancing, flipping and working as hard as she can, through injury, weather and more, to be a cheerleader, peaks at 15. After that, everything they have worked for is GONE, and they won’t have it back. Maybe when they are 30 they can look back and pull out their old uniform and maybe get into it, but their life’s ambition is done by the time they are about 1/8 done with their life.
Also understand that most of these girls are ALSO carrying a B or better average in all their classes. Why? Because if they start failing a class, they are off the team. Have you ever tried to read with a concussion? how about a sprained wrist and pain pills? Think you could learn Calculus at the same time well enough to pass a test? They have to.
AND consider the girls who are lucky enough to live near a gym that has an All Star team affiliated with it. They will probably sign up for that team as well, doing completions all over the United States, spending more money to go there.
And then consider that most of these girls are NOT wealthy, so they are constantly doing fund raisers to help out their teammates who can’t afford to go to Disneyland where the Worlds competition is being held.
And add all that up. All that time. An hour here at the gym, another hour at the dance studio, another at the doctor to make sure that bruised rib isn’t broken, and two hours after school every day practicing, then another two hours at the gym with their All Star team, and travel back and forth, and studying, and competitions, and game day (for Football, Basketball, Wrestling and all the other sports) and one wonders how they have enough time to keep a boyfriend, much less get labelled with the term “skank ass ho”, when they don’t have time to turn around twice.
As a parent, I wanted my daughter to get off the couch and do something. I would have been proud to have her Cheer. She didn’t and that was her choice, but FOR THE LOVE OF THE DEITY YOU PRAY TO, don’t make their life harder than it already is.
You are truly amazing. A round of applause, all of the respect i can give, and a hug. seriously. You are truly the best mascot for cheerleading, and sound like a wonderful role model. KEEP POSTING THESE WONDERFUL THINGS <3