The Apache Pow Wow

The Sport of Cheerleading

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The Sport of Cheerleading

Lisza Lo, Writer

Five, six, seven, eight… Who do we appreciate?

Cheerleaders are everywhere. We see them in their uniforms and big hair bows around school hallways, at sporting events, and pep rallies. These teams are known for encouraging cheers, while executing synchronized choreography to pump up the crowd. Many of them even throw difficult stunts in the air! Despite the extensive amount of physical activity required, many people still believe that cheerleading is not a sport.

In popular media, cheerleaders are often portrayed as “dumb,” or girls who spend their time chasing after boys. As a result, many have used these stereotypes in real life to evaluate cheerleaders.

Cheerleading actually began as a male activity at Princeton University and the University of Minnesota in the late 1800s. According to Varsity Spirit, “it wasn’t until 1923 that women were allowed to cheer for the first time.” Ever since then, cheerleading has expanded to include sideline cheer, all-star cheer, tumbling, dancing, stunts, and competitions. In 2016, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to recognize cheer as a sport so that it can potentially one day become an Olympic sport as well.

There are different variations of cheer, but the most recognized would be sideline cheer and all-star cheer. Sideline cheerleading is most often seen at sporting events, such as high school or college football games, and these are the cheerleaders most often depicted in movies. Their main purpose is to yell cheers and spirited crowd encouragements. These sideline teams also may perform high-level stunts to awe the audience. All-star cheerleading is essentially the performance aspect of cheer. They usually don’t cheer for a team, and instead, these cheerleaders perform routines to music full of sharp choreography, scary stunts, and advanced tumbling. Not many people know about the world of all-star cheerleading, but it is a sport that is taken extremely seriously by those involved. Documentary series, like Cheerleaders on YouTube and Cheer Squad on Netflix, accurately capture the physical endurance and mental capacity it takes to even be a cheerleader.

Freshman Rianne Fujinaga is a member of AHS’ Pep Squad and is part of a dance company outside of school. She finds that “cheerleading is a unique sport” and she hopes “more people appreciate the effort we put into performing complicated routines.” Sophomore Lauren Banuelos also shared her love for Pep Squad, as she enjoys “being able to perform dances to different songs and receiving feedback from fellow classmates.” Reflecting on her experiences, Junior Brieann Chan noted that she “has been on Pep for 2 years so far” and has “grown a lot after working in a team setting.”

To be a cheerleader takes lots strenuous physical strength and stamina compared to other activities, which is why it is considered a sport. Take this chance to learn more about it, and maybe even try it out. AHS’ Pep Squad auditions are currently in session, but if you are interested, try out next year!

Photo by KALI TAM

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The Sport of Cheerleading