Cheerleaders Feel Sidelined


Alexa Coughlan

Junior flyer, Malia Clyburn, explodes into a hitch-kick basket toss with the help of her bases Ella Feuers, William Smith, Camryn Barnett, and Samia Smith.

Cheerleading is not appreciated in today’s society. There are different layers to the sport and people do not realize that. One of the most common types of cheerleaders are ones we see in the NBA or NFL but they aren’t really cheerleaders. Because many people go to professional sports games they see these cheerleaders on the sidelines doing tags which are sideline dances or performing at halftime with big dance numbers. These cheerleaders are dancers who specialize in Pom Dancing which is sharp motions and movements that look pleasing to the eyes. 

In “Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team,” a TV show on County Time Television(CMT) they go through the whole process of becoming a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader which is one of the best pom squads in the NFL. The candidates go through round one, a group audition where the judges observe their technical skills. If you make it to round two you then perform a solo routine to show personal style and strengths. After the solo round if you make it far enough you go to training camp where you learn routines, the kickline, and get to take technique classes from the most prestigious choreographers in the country. During the two-month-long camp, candidates are cut one by one until there is a team of 36. 

This is just the case for one cheerleading or pom team, the women that make it are phenomenal dancers and they are only praised by other people who know what it is like to train as a dancer. Bystanders or people who don’t understand the work that goes into such performances only criticize them on their looks or objectify them because of the uniforms they are required to wear. 

Another prominent style of cheerleading is sideline cheerleading which is what many high school or college cheer teams were categorized as. These cheerleaders are very good at getting a crowd hyped at a football game by stunting, jumping, dancing, and tumbling. Though sideline cheerleading takes a lot of energy and time it is probably the easiest type of cheerleading and is one that even some cheerleaders may argue isn’t a sport. As a cheerleader who was on the sideline for four years and competed with our school team, I could definitely see how people would think sideline cheer would be easy. But it is very draining to go to every football and basketball game near and far. Cheer in schools is completely underfunded to the point where we have to hold multiple fundraisers throughout the year in order to help cover some costs of traveling to compete. We also do not get money for food for away games and we pay out of our own pockets while other campus teams don’t. 

I have been a competitive dancer for 10 years and going into high school I decided to try something new. I knew cheer and dance were similar in ways but I am glad that I was able to experience competitive cheerleading. Competitive cheer is more extreme than sideline cheer, it can be done at a cheer gym or through schools but cheerleaders prepare a two-minute routine that includes stunts, jumps, tumbling, and dance. These routines are judged on sharpness, difficulty, and overall style. I did not know much about it a few years ago but it is extremely difficult and takes years to perfect tumbling and stunts. When people say competitive cheer isn’t a sport it is a slap in the face to the cheerleaders who practice five times a week and train for months. I can’t express how hard a competitive cheerleader works for their sport and to some it is their whole life. When people say cheer isn’t a sport those cheerleaders feel overlooked. It is important to not downplay anything someone is passionate about and try to educate yourself if you are unaware of what cheerleaders actually have to go through.