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 firstname.lastname@example.org.