Opinion

Cheerleading ‘flexibility’ just too sexy for my tastes

The only people more important than cheerleaders at center stage of a college sporting event are the teams, the coaches and the referees. A cheerleader’s job is to cheer all game. No matter the deficit. And cheerleaders try to do more than just cheer. They try to entertain. Something that some say has evolved over… Read more »

Appelblatt, Jeff The only people more important than cheerleaders at center stage of a college sporting event are the teams, the coaches and the referees.

A cheerleader’s job is to cheer all game. No matter the deficit.

And cheerleaders try to do more than just cheer. They try to entertain. Something that some say has evolved over time.

“I have seen cheerleading grow from the show aspect of it to such an athletic venture,” Matt Echevarria, one of Temple’s cheer coaches, said. “I think in the past, [cheerleading was] always about entertainment. Nowadays, I think it has to do [with] how well you represent your school while displaying athleticism and team support.”
I know cheerleaders have amazing flexibility. Flexibility that I’ll never have.

What I’m questioning is the sexual innuendo that comes along with the flips, dips, twists and lifts – whether it’s there purposely or not.

When I’m at a basketball game, I’m there to see the game. When the cheerleaders run onto the court during timeouts and start lifting each other up, I can’t help but ask myself, “Why?”
“Lifting each other is mainly for stunting and pyramids,” said Echevarria, who was a cheerleader throughout high school and college. “A lot of our stunts display the flexibility of our athletes and the strength of one or three members holding the stunt.”

But the biggest question for me comes when the cheerleader on top of the pyramid lifts one of her legs up and holds it out.

“It’s a really challenging thing to do,” Monica Devlin, a Temple graduate and former Eagles cheerleader said about the stunt. “The college routine [of cheerleading] is very acrobatic [and] more athletic than professional sports.”

I’m not sure what other guys are thinking at that time, but I’m sure it’s not, “Oh man, I bet that’s hard!” Instead, I can’t help but think that at least some are imagining taking that girl home to see more flexibility.

I don’t agree with those who make the argument that when a girl dresses scandalously, she’s looking for sex. I wouldn’t say that the girl lifting her leg up is looking for it either. I would say it’s even more inviting than scandalous attire.

If it’s at a cheerleading competition, OK, that’s one thing. If lifting your leg impresses cheerleading judges, get it up there. But don’t tease a crowd dominated by males like that.

I’m not arguing that it’s easy, and I’m not saying cheerleaders are useless at athletic events, because they are useful and should forever be a staple at basketball and football. But I am arguing that I wouldn’t want my daughter holding her leg up in public.

Jeff Appelblatt can be reached at the.jeff@temple.edu.

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    16 comments on “Cheerleading ‘flexibility’ just too sexy for my tastes

    1. Teresa Casper on said:

      This article is horrible. I can not beleive that you had nothing else to write about. You obviously did not do any reasearch on this topic before writing this article, because you do not even know that “holding the leg up” is called a heel stretch and is a part of every age group of cheerleading. Little do you know that dancers, gymnast and alot of other sports contain this same move, so you must be infering that they are trying to be sexual also. Get something better to write about, this is just making you seem liek a perverted individual.

    2. Tricia Taggart on said:

      Mr. Appelblatt:

      First, I would like to invite you to do some research before writing an article so that you may call the specific stunts by name. I would assume you would research your material for an article. The stunt in particular that you are referring to is what I am assuming by your rambling is called a heel stretch. Yes, indeed it is a very difficult, skilled stunt. As your lack of terminology and sexist writing implicates, you are just writing an opinionated article and not a factual news story. Hence, the possible lack of research.

      Secondly, based sheerly on your obvious expertise, then the following should also be in question:
      Gymnasts doing the same type of stretches on the floor exercise and on the balance beam
      Dance teams’ movements with leg kicks, jumps, and flexibility moves
      Volleyball players wearing brief bottoms
      Divers splitting and lifting their legs in dives and dive approaches
      Wrestlers in singlets kicking and flipping around the mat with each other
      Track team members wearing brief bottoms and splitting their legs to jump a hurdle
      Swimmers in bathing suits stretching
      Any athlete stretching with a trainer doing leg extensions or stretching period
      Any athlete tumbling/flipping after they made an exciting play
      And the list can go on and on………However, I should not be the one researching the material.

      Cheerleading is a very competitive, demanding, athletic program that has to overcome many unfounded, egotistical stereotyping. These athletes work hard to overcome this stereotyping and then an article such as your’s comes along with your uneducated opinion and sets us back 20 years. With that I have a cheer for you, rah, rah, re, kick ’em in the knee, rah, rah, rass, you need a kick in your _____.

    3. Shirley Smith on said:

      Also, a little history………it is my understanding that “lifts” which are correctly called pyramids were originated from the need to have people in the upper seats be able to see the cheerleader’s signs and follow the cheers. This was a result of bigger arenas and stadiums. Therefore, being creative and inventive, cheerleaders came up with pyramids. Oh, those smart cheerleaders! Another stereotype debunked.

    4. Alicia on said:

      You are a obvious sexist idiot. Are wrestlers “teasing” the crowd during their matches also? Give me a break. Will you be as concerned on how your future son will be perceived when he gets all tangeled up with another man if he chooses to particpate in wrestling?

      It sounds like to me that it is you who is the sicko thinking all of these perverted things.

    5. Karly Streapy on said:

      Nice article. And way to support your college’s athletics. Little do you know that we practice year round, summer and christmas break included, and that we cheer for football and both men and women’s basketball. To critcize your own college’s cheerleading team, a team that unknowingly works so hard and is so dedicated to their school, for one move they do, is extremely shallow. We already barely get recognized for everything we do and figures that when we do get some recognition, it’s negative remarks from a pig like yourself. Honestly, who goes to basketball games and thinks about taking the cheerleaders home? We’re on the court for mere minutes at a time. Seems like you need a girlfriend to get your mind off what you’re taking out on this university’s cheerleading squad.

    6. Karly Streapy on said:

      O, and P.S. my dad is actually really proud of me for cheering on a D-1 cheerleading team. Maybe you should get yourself out of the stands and involved in your school besides writing lame, pointless articles like this. I also invite you to one of our practices so that for your next derogatory article, you have more to write about… or at least, the correct information.

    7. Dustin on said:

      Well sir I don’t believe there is much to be said because all these other people have said it. So…your an idiot…I am a male cheerleader and I’d love to see you do what we do. Think before you talk.

    8. Tom on said:

      Who in there right mind would complain about this? I think you must either be gay or jealous of the cheerleaders’ popularity. Either way, you’re a tool. Now get out of mommy’s basement!

    9. Aria Schofield on said:

      everyone who has left a comment has my undivided support.

      get youur facts straight. lets see you get up there in front of a crowd and do that. seriously. then tell me its “too sexy”.
      i bet you can’t even lift your leg above your head. COME ON.
      this is probably the most biased article i’ve read in a loooong time. and if you dont want your daughter doing it, dont let her.
      where would teams be without the support of the cheerleaders making the best of EVERY GAME good or bad?
      also, since its a university? arent there MALE cheerleaders there as well?

      get it right mister.
      try giving something the dedication and hard work these men and women give it.
      THEN try this article again.

    10. Please tell me that you didn’t get paid to write this. As a former journalist and dance instructor, how embarrassing for you. The only thing offensive about athleticism and the human body is your commentary on it.

    11. Lance on said:

      Why is it that whenever female athletes (yes, cheerleaders are athletes) show their physical abilities it is often seen as sexual. Cheerleaders must be in top physical condition to perform. I am a 47 year old father and I applaud and support our youth involved in any form of sports. Not only are they developing healthy habits that can last a lifetime, they develop self-confidence and learn teamwork and leadership skills. These are good kids who are challenging themselves to be the best they can be. So, to all you cheerleaders, don’t let some sick-minded pervert distract you from your goals and aspirations!

    12. mom of cheerleader on said:

      as a mom of a E.H.T. cheerleader i can say they work as hard as anyone else maybe even harder. my daughter loves to cheer so she does…..

      my opinion…. what do they cheer for they get nothing If they win the team gets a trophy so whats all the hard work for……..I do feel she has changed she now wants to wear tank tops short shorts and belly showing….

      do i let her NO WAY but i do see a BIG difference in her as the season goes by she is also a level 6 competitive gymnast she sings, dances, and plays the piano even though this is only her first year cheering I have a hard time dealing with the little girls pulling off yes i will say it such sexy moves..the make up and wearing barely anything. but who am I to say all those other parents are wrong.. what happen to being cute at ages 6-13

      as for high school on up its not as bad but these little ones O MY Its not only what they are performing its the way the parents let them act..we need to remember they are little girls and they shouldn’t be winking a throwing kisses and wiggling hips they don’t even have yet.

      We need to let our girls know that they are performers not showgirls for the guys and If it keeps them in school in the gym and off the sidewalks of are towns what is so wrong if it make that person happy. not to mention it is the parents who is responsible for making the final choice for the child and in MOST cases they are living through the child not for the child..And being a cheerleader is all they know and all they can do….
      I Listen to some of these parents and just want to cry for their child..

    13. Mom Too on said:

      Well, I have a daughter who did competitive cheer and now also school cheer. She’s one that has to pull the heel stretches and splits. Honestly, as a female, I never thought of it as anything but a talent. I do agree the makeup and uniforms in cheer competitions are out of control with the little ones – even up through junior high with all star squads. There has to be a middle ground. These kids LOVE their sport – and it’s not me saying this, it’s the girls I am around. So, it’s going to take responsible parents and GOOD LEADERS in the evolving sport of competitive cheerleading to sort this out. I read they are banning stomach showing uniforms for all but the oldest squads which is a step in the right direction. The activity is not the issue, it’s the other side issues that turn it around. The writer’s comments may make some sense in the high school and college venues. Everyone needs to keep an open mind and figure out what’s best for the girls (and the guys who attend). It’s all good, but is a work in progres…

    14. Ralph DeMattia on said:

      John Wilkes Booth must have been thinking into the future about Cheerleaders when he died on the porch of Garrett;s farmhouse. He is supposed yto have said, “Useless. Useless!”

    15. night paws on said:

      I guess I’m the first non cheerleader to comment here. I agree with you 100%. It’s overly sexual and these people all try to pretend its not. Whatever helps them sleep at night, right?

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