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Cheerleading has been an evolving

activity in America since the first
recorded account in the late 1800s.
Rutgers and Princeton University held
the first college football game. At this
game, men had formed a cheer pep
club, shouting chants, and singing fight
songs to lead their team to victory.
Many people are unaware that
cheerleading originated as an all-male
activity, and it wasnt until
approximately the mid 1900s that
women became intensely involved
with this sport.

Three Main Types of


1.) All-Star The evolution of cheerleading began on Friday nights

2.) Grade School under the bright lights of a football stadium, in small
3.) College towns and cities in America. While the players were the
1.) A of the crowd, cheerleaders loyally stood to
main attraction
the sidelines supporting and motivating their school
l players throughout the game. Fast forward
teams football
to modern times, and cheerleading currently remains one
S and most involved activities for girls across
of the highest
the country.t Although cheerleading began along the side
a football games, it has continuously evolved
lines of college
r different forms, roles, and activities. For
into many
2.) G school cheerleading, All-star competitive,
example, grade
and colleger cheerleading teams exist today and continue
a to grow rapidly.
3.) C

All-star teams, or competitive teams, do not take on the same role of middle school or high school teams.
The main purpose for these teams, unlike cheering at school sporting events, is to compete in local, regional,
state, national, and world championship competitions. One of the main reasons for the dramatic growth of
all-star teams is that schools across the country could not provide the proper accommodations or spaces for
the girls who wanted to participate at their school. Including a few males, the majority of all-star
cheerleaders are females who are drawn to the sport because of the physical demand and athleticism
involved. In addition to all-star teams, Collegiate teams have rapidly increased in many universities across the
country. The role of college cheer teams often takes on the demands of a high school team mixed with an all-
star team. Therefore, college teams represent their university at football and basketball games interacting
with the crowd and spreading school spirit, but they also compete in various competitions and a national

Cheerleading is one of the most physical demanding sports that involves various activities such as dancing,
stunting, tumbling, and jumping. These activities require an enormous amount of time, practice, thought, and
effort. Moreover, cheerleading is a huge time commitment. All-star teams spend days, after weeks, after
months, practicing and perfecting their competition routine which lasts about two, to two and a half minutes
on the floor during the competition. This single routine is a combination of synchronized tumbling, stunting,
dancing, jumping, and a team pyramid.

Throughout the routine, the team must exert a great amount of effort and teamwork, which is quite
strenuous on their breathing and the physical shape of their body. In addition to the physical aspect of
cheerleading, there is also the time management part. Many teams practice multiple hours of the day and
often into late hours of the night. Most collegiate teams practice early in the morning for three hours before
class, including our very own Charlotte Forty-Niners team which I am a part of.

Along with the various forms of cheerleading, this sport has also taken on many different preconceived
notions and stereotypical judgments. In fact, even to this day, people are still unclear of what cheerleading
consists of and represents in the United States. To name a few stereotypical judgments, cheerleaders have
been identified as dumb blondes, objectified sexual icons, mindless enthusiastic beings, miss popularity,
snobby, and unathletic. Cheerleaders have also been portrayed this way through television, internet,
magazines, and social media. For example, in multiple music videos and magazine covers cheerleaders have
been demonstrated as young, shallow minded, sexual icons, who are good for nothing except their looks and
peppiness. These judgments are terribly wrong and offensive to cheerleaders. Furthermore, people do not
understand the requirements of cheerleading and the reality of the sport.

Although cheerleading is physically and emotionally exhausting, it brings an enormous amount of joy and
fulfillment to those involved. What once started as a fun chant has now increased to a world-wide sport that
is continuously growing today which I think is amazing. This sport gives girls and boys an opportunity to
express themselves through many different physical activities, and to use their talents to engage with an
audience or crowd that is in front of them.
Interview Questions

Interview Responses Witherspoon &
Jessica Beck

1.) For a cheerleader to reach their maximum potential, they should spend about six-seven hours at
cheer practice each week. In addition to cheer practice, a cheerleader should spend
approximately three-four hours at a gym working on cardio, weight training, flexibility, strength
training, and additional cheer exercises.
2.) When coaching a cheerleading team, is it important to pick your team members wisely. The best
team members to select are those who are the most dedicated. During practice, you work them
like athletes and even though they are tired you force them to keep a smile on their face. This
teaches them that cheerleading is all about appearance and crowd appeal regardless of how tired
or hurting they are.
3.) When people think of cheerleading they think of cheering on the sidelines and doing chants at
games. Therefore, I do not think cheerleaders get enough credit because it is so much more than
that. We work hard for numerous hours and sweat just as much as any other athletic team all
working up to our competition time.
4.) Cheerleading has definitely grown into a worldwide sport which I think is great. There are now so
many team varieties such as All-Star, and school cheerleading. This gives almost every girl the
opportunity to become a cheerleader as long as they are willing to put in the work and dedication.
5.) I feel like mainstream media portrays cheerleaders totally wrong and does not give them enough
respect or credit. We are seen as dumb people who only care about our social status but it is so
much more than that. Those who really love the sport put their heart and soul and everything
they have into it.
6.) Cheerleading for sure has an influence on preparing girls and boys for their lives. Cheerleading
teaches them skills such as the ability to communicate and trusting one another.
7.) Cheerleading is a very demanding sport physically and mentally. Cheerleaders have to be in great
shape to lift flyers over their heads. You also have to be in great shape in order to throw yourself
upside down when tumbling. Flyers have to have control over their bodies in the air in order to
stand on one leg and also have to trust their bases to properly hold and catch them.
8.) A well-rounded cheerleader in my opinion, is someone who has the mental and physical skills it
takes to be an elite cheerleader. This cheerleader also has to be friendly, personal, approachable,
and relatable. A friendly, cute face is something most people find very appealing.
9.) Cheerleaders can influence those around them by being kind and nice. A lot of people at games,
competitions, and in the crowd, want to talk to a friendly face, so cheerleaders can provide that.
10.) Cheerleading is definitely a sport. It requires all if not more of the physical abilities a sport has.
Cheerleading is competitive and not just anyone can do it.

Jessica Beck
1.) Cheerleaders should spend several hours at the minimum. It takes a great deal of core strength in order to lift and
throw one hundred plus pound athletes into the air over your head. So, cheerleaders need to constantly be in the
gym working on their strength and technique.
2.) I make sure the athletes I coach still play the role of a traditional side line cheerleader with crowd involvement. At
practice, we work on so much more then what is seen at games. The games are a good opportunity to showcase
their more difficult skills that they put a lot of work into. So even though I work them very hard at practice, they
are able to draw in the crowd with their difficult, entertaining stunts.
3.) Cheerleaders are not given enough credit, although this issue is getting a little better. Most people assume that
cheerleaders just show up and smile. What they dont realize is that outside of their regular traditional roles, these
athletes are putting hours into the gym. The delicate, almost perfect routine the crowd enjoys, was preceded by
hours of someone getting hurt, dropped, or bruised. For example, one stunt could take hours of work and
preparation before the athletes show it to the crowd. These athletes work endless hours to make sure their flyer
in the air doesnt fall, or kick and elbow someone in the face. The bases lifting the flyers are the barrier between
the flyer and the ground if anything were to happen, so they are risking their safety for the flyers sake. Precise
timing is crucial for these athletes, and more recognition is desired and needed for what they do.
4.) This change is exciting! This sport has grown so much, and so has the talent. Cheerleading now gives athletes a
chance in many ways to show just how talented they are and what areas they excel in.
5.) In my opinion, these negative judgements stem from the general population not understanding how much blood
and sweat goes into each routine or stunt. These are athletes of strength and grace. They can make the most
difficult stunt look easy all while smiling. It is always entertaining to see another athlete try to do a stunt, and
then they suddenly realize how difficult it is. Some of the best cheerleaders that everyone watches are in
incredible shape but it is because they have worked countless hours to become better. These cheerleaders
abilities prove wrong the negative judgments placed on them.
6.) Absolutely, cheerleading prepares athletes in a positive way. There is a lot to be said for putting differences aside
in order to achieve a common goal. Ive seen time and time again where two athletes dont see eye to eye but at
the end of the day they have to preform and understand that one has to catch the other and they have to work
together in order to pull of incredibly difficult stunts. This will prepare them with communication and
compromising skills for their future lives and jobs.
7.) Physically you spend hours upon hours pushing your body to its limits to create a routine that makes people go
WOW. Cheerleading is also a very mental sport. Physically you might have to try a stunt twenty times before you
finally can hit it which has a mental effect on the athletes. That is twenty failures for 1 success. They have to be
able to keep a positive attitude, pick up their pieces, and try time and time again for that one success.
8.) A well-rounded cheerleader is driven, a team oriented person, compassionate, goal oriented, determined, and
willing to try new things outside of their comfort zone.
9.) Cheerleaders can take the skills they learn and use at practice and apply them almost in any life situation. Our
society right now could use a good lesson in putting differences aside to achieve a common goal. This a skill
cheerleaders already possess from practicing so they could demonstrate these to others. The blame game doesnt
work in cheerleading. It takes at least three people to perform a stunt, or as many as twenty. There will be
conflict, but unless it is put aside or addressed in an appropriate manner, the routine will fail. This is the same way
with situations in life and cheerleaders can be the leaders in working through these situations.
10.) Cheerleading is one hundred percent a sport. These athletes can hold their own ground and in many cases, would
surprise other athletes all they are capable of. I would challenge anyone who thinks it isnt a sport to give it a
serious try. They will quickly find out how difficult it will be.
Source Chart Note: These are
all of my

Search Term Source found based on search term Name and Location of source

Cheerleading Author Spends a Year with the Cheerleaders (NPR)


Cheerleading Cheerleader! Cheerleader! : an American Icon

cheerleader-an-american- (UNCC data base book) Introduction


Cheerleading Cheerleader! Cheerleader! : an American Icon

cheerleader-an-american- (UNCC data base book) Chapter Two


Cheerleading Cheerleader! Cheerleader! : an American Icon

cheerleader-an-american- (UNCC data base book) Chapter Three


The Sport of Cheerleading a Sport? Youll Know It When You

Cheerleading oryId=128796458 See It (NPR)

Cheerleading Cheerleading and the Gender Politics of Sports

information (JSTOR)

Cheerleading Cheerleading Gets Tough (UNCC data base)


What is The Guide to Cheerleading (Google Scholar)

Cheerleading cgi?article=1072&context=honors_et&sei-


Search Term Source found based on search term Name and Location of source

What is The Guide to Cheerleading (Google Scholar)

Cheerleading cgi?article=1072&context=honors_et&sei-






Cheerleading Qualitative Investigation of Need Fulfillment &

2701367.2015.1124970?scroll=top&needAcces Motivational Profiles in Collegiate Cheerleading

s=true (UNCC data base)

Cheerleading GO! Fight! Win! Cheerleading in American Culture

cheerleading-in-american- (UNCC data base book) Chapter Four


Cheerleading Cheerleading: Not Just for the Sidelines Anymore

u/doi/full/10.1080/17430437.2011.575109?scro (UNCC data base)

Ideas that
stood out about
my sources:
Many people think
cheerleading is silly or
1 pointless and tend to
stereotype every cheerleader
into a negative category.

Cheerleading involves
2 much more then short
skirts and a smile. It
requires hard work,
dedication, intense 3
training, and a high level
of skill.

4 Cheerleading began as an all-

male activity and now has

evolved from the sidelines into

a worldwide strenuous and

competitive activity.

Once people see past their

negative judgement of
cheerleaders, they find that
cheerleading is extremely
intriguing and entertaining.
Topic Proposal C H E E R L E A D I N G

When you think of cheerleading what comes to mind? A blonde-haired girl, jumping and
waving, with an overexaggerated smile permanently on her face? Typically, for most
people, this is the image they envision. For years, cheerleaders across America have
received many stereotypical judgements that are downgrading and hurtful. For example,
in magazines, television, books, and many other social media outlets, cheerleaders have
been referred to as dumb blondes, objectified sexual icons, mindless enthusiastic beings,
miss popularity, snobby, and unathletic. These various stereotypical images are not only
insulting, but are extremely false. Many people with this mainstream view are unaware of
what aspects and skills cheerleading involves. Cheerleading is one of the most physically
and mentally demanding sports that incorporates multiple activities such as dancing,
stunting, tumbling, and jumping. These activities require an enormous amount of time,
practice, thought, skill, and effort from the girls heart and soul. Regardless of the negative
views cheerleading may receive, to be a cheerleader is a great honor, extremely fun, and
one of the biggest dreams to accomplish for many girls. Some girls wait all their life to
become a rewarded cheerleader and train multiple hours to achieve their goal. Overall,
cheerleaders should not have to face the harsh criticism or wrong idolism from people
across America. Yet, they should be valued and rewarded for the many things they
accomplish along the journey, such as World Championships, Brand Ambassadors,
Models, and Business Partners, to name a few. Therefore, through this research, I intend
to prove that cheerleading is more than just a stereotype. As a current college
cheerleader, my goal is to demonstrate that cheerleading is athletically strenuous and
challenging to achieve. I hope to open the minds of the people that negatively judge
cheerleading and alter their perspective to see that cheerleading is more than what comes
to their imagination.
This is a
Literature Review
combination of
paragraphs of my

From its origination, cheerleading has continuously evolved into many different forms. Both Pamela J.
Bettis et. al (2003), and Jaclyn Right (2011), discuss how All-Star cheerleading has rapidly become one of
the most popular types of cheerleading. All-Star Cheerleading is highly competitive and physically
demanding, requiring participants to prepare 2-3 minute routines consisting of various skills such as
stunts, jumps, tumbling, pyramids and a dance (Hanson, 1995). In order to achieve this athletic ability,
cheerleading requires endless hours of practice and preparation. Pamela J. Bettis et. al (2003), and Jaclyn
Right (2011) elaborate on how cheer practices are long, three to four days a week for two to three hours
a day, strenuous, involving weight training, conditioning, stunting, jumping, dancing, flexibility, and
cardio, and require an enormous amount of time dedication.

Regardless of cheerleadings popularity, it still faces many hardships. For example, this sport
encounters stereotypes, constant trivialization, and a relative lack of external rewards (Tucker Readdy
et. al, 2016; Pamela J. Bettis et. al, 2003). These stereotypes, such as dumb blondes, objectified sexual
icons, mindless enthusiastic beings, miss popularity, snobby, and unathletic, constantly and negatively
press down on cheerleaders. Yes, cheerleading comes with judgements, but it also has many arguments
showing that it requires rigorous athletic ability, therefore proving it is more than a stereotype (Marry
Ellen Hanson, 1995; Laura Grindstaff et. al, 2006; Katie Torgovnick, 2008; Frank Deford, 2010). All of
these authors note that cheerleaders possess the many qualities of an athlete putting the mainstream
stereotypes to shame. They touch on how at first thought cheerleading seems silly and is all about
waving pom-poms and yelling, but when people take a closer look they are surprised at the physical
abilities required by these athletes and the fierceness and passion that comes along with this sport.

The athletic abilities demanded for cheerleading lead to the rise of the debate if
cheerleading ought to be considered a sport. Various authors touch on this question, discussing how
cheerleaders receive a second-hand status in regards to their athletic abilities which is unfair (Laura
Grindstaff et. al, 2006; Katie Torgovnick, 2008; Frank Deford, 2010). After attending a cheer competition
and spending a year with cheerleaders, these authors agree that cheerleading touches on every area and
qualifications that any other sport does. Katie Torgovnick states And when I went in, I just started to
see such intensity and such passion that it just sort of really pulls you inand there's this fierceness and
toughness to cheerleaders that I find very inspiring. (Torgovnick, 2008).
Adams, N. G., & Bettis, P. (2005). Cheerleader!: an American icon.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

References Adams, N. G., & Bettis, P. (2005). Chapter Two. Cheerleader!: an

American icon. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Adams, N. G., & Bettis, P. (2005). Chapter Three. Cheerleader!: an

American icon. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Adams, N. G., & Bettis, P. (2005). Chapter Four. Cheerleader!: an

American icon. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Adams, N. G., & Bettis, P. (2005). Introduction. Cheerleader!: an

American icon. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Author Spends a Year with the Cheerleaders. (n.d.). Retrieved

February 05, 2017, from

Cheerleading A Sport? You'll Know It When You See It. (n.d.).

Retrieved February 05, 2017, from

Grindstaff, L., & West, E. (2006). Cheerleading and the Gendered

Politics of Sport. Social Problems, 53(4), 500-518.

H. (2010, March 13). Cheerleading Gets Tough. Retrieved February 05,

2017, from

Hanson, M. E. (1995). Go! fight! win!: cheerleading in American culture.

Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press.

Moritz, A. (2011). Cheerleading: not just for the sidelines anymore. Sport in

Society, 14(5), 660-669. doi:10.1080/17430437.2011.575109

Raabe, J., & Readdy, T. (2016). A Qualitative Investigation of Need

Fulfillment and Motivational Profiles in Collegiate Cheerleading. Research

Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 87(1), 78-88.


Wright, J. (2011). The Guide to Cheerleading.