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Cheer Isn’t all About Pom Poms By Sophie Corbett

Jun 10, 2018 09:41PM ● By Elena Hutslar

When thinking of sports, people usually think of baseball, football, basketball, and soccer. Cheerleading is usually the last thing that pops into someone’s mind. People in the sports world often look down upon cheerleading and just see it as a silly halftime performance that is a mere distraction from the “real” sport going on. Cheerleading is quickly growing in popularity as the sport of choice for many youth, but with this comes an abundance of cheerleading stereotypes. Often, people don’t classify cheerleading as a sport, and when they do, it’s characterized as simply a sport for girly girls that takes virtually no athleticism or skill. However, this is far from the truth.

Beneath the sparkling outfit, pom poms, and perfect high ponytail, cheerleading takes just as much hard work and dedication as any other sport. It takes a lot of skill, flexibility, and strength to be able to perform the complex tumbling passes and stunts, yet people still have a negative impression of the sport. “The stereotypes of cheer being easy and not a sport are extremely unfair. Without a doubt, I’ve never worked harder than I have at The California Allstars. I’ve done many other sports and competitive cheer is by far the most difficult, exhausting, and dangerous” said Jordynne Hesselroth, who travels from Pacheco to Livermore to cheer with The California Allstars, which, according to their website, is California’s #1 competitive cheer program. The popular belief that cheerleading isn’t a sport is unfair and unfounded. In fact, cheerleading incorporates skills of different sports; many elements come from gymnastics, which is one of the most popular Olympic events.

Another common misconception about cheerleading is that only girls participate. “Every other division is coed and has boy cheerleaders. It isn't accurate to say it's a ‘girl's sport’ when half of the teams have boys. It's clearly a mixed sport overall,” said Drake Johnson, one of Jordynne’s male teammates. Cheerleading is also far more than shaking pom poms and chanting in megaphones at sports games; competition cheer is extremely intense. Just recently, Jordynne’s team had the opportunity to travel to Cheerleading Worlds, one of the highest level cheer competitions. According to the U.S. All Star Federation, the event attracts more than 11,000 cheerleaders each year. The event was hosted at the ESPN sports complex in Orlando, Florida. Jordynne’s team took first in their division.

While stereotypes are still prevalent, cheerleading is starting to be recognized globally. According to USA Today, cheerleading received provisional status in 2017 by the International Olympic Committee. While the sports for the 2020 Olympics have already been decided, it’s quite possible that we could be seeing cheerleading at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.