Cheerleaders: Breaking The Stereotype

Cheerleaders: Breaking The Stereotype

We're replacing the pep with sweat and not going down without a fight!

Everything has a stereotype. No matter where you look, you can find a preferred social view that is either accepted or detested by the surrounding community. One that I would like to touch on in particular is the stereotype that encompasses cheerleaders and cheerleading as a sport. Being that I have lived the sport for over half of my life, I am nowhere near ignorant when it comes to the words and images that accompany the thought of cheerleading.

Based on what movies and television have taught us, cheerleaders are expected to be tall, skinny, have long, silky locks of hair that are typically blonde or brown, and have an incredible amount of "pep." On an average day, these perfect models of cheer culture can be found in their school's uniform of choice, including, but not limited to, the short skirts and revealing tops. I can't blame anyone for following this stereotype because that is just what we are taught. Cheerleaders are supposed to be the most school spirited individuals within a five mile radius of any facility containing a football or basketball team.

To further prove my point, simply search the word "cheerleader" on Google images. This is the result you will get:

About 90% of the pictures on the first page of this search display cheerleaders from professional sports teams. In reality, the cheerleaders who accompany the Detroit Lions or Dallas Cowboys are more of a dance team than anything. If you want results displaying competitive cheerleaders who fight for world titles, and train for over 30 hours a week, try searching "all star cheerleading." This is the kind of sport that I am accustomed to, and that I wish more people saw and understood. This is what you will see when you refine your search:

Another aspect of the cheer stereotype that causes some concern for me is that we all have to essentially be 5'9" and 110 pounds. Being 5'1" and definitely not 110 pounds, it worries me that there are girls out there that are striving for unrealistic body proportions because they believe that is what is required of them.

I went into more research about this and was slightly confused with what I found. I was once told that it would be cool to try out for the Detroit Lions cheer team, but having missed the deadline, I decided to just read about it for future reference. Aside from not meeting the minimum age requirement, there were some other topics in the FAQ's that caught my eye. For example, they home page struck me as more of a dance-centered job listing than for a team. Instead of advertising a try out, they refer to it as an audition. They also explain that being a part of the program includes no vocals (this consists of sideline cheers and crowd chants) and no stunting (pyramids, for those who are unfamiliar).

Reading further into the frequently asked questions regarding the program, I found a section labeled "Are there any physical requirements?" The heading alone made me nervous. The first bullet point was all I needed to see. They state that they do not have physical requirements, but go on to suggest recommended expectations. Taken directly from the sheet, the organization states "You should look well-proportioned in dancewear as a lean figure is demanded by our uniforms." Sure, they aren't explicitly telling us that to be accepted onto the team you have to be skinny, but they are choosing their words carefully to insinuate exactly that. If they didn't want there to be a requirement, then they would not have felt obligated to word it in that way. By doing this, it becomes an unspoken rule at the very least. Following is a screen clipping from the requirements page.

By writing this article, I no way intend to criticize the Detroit Lions cheer team or program. As a cheerleader, I feel that it is my job to squash the unflattering stereotypes that come along with the sport. I fully support anyone who was, is, or will be on that team, or any team. I do believe that cheerleaders for professional teams have become more centered around dance and image, though. For all I know, that could be me one day standing on the sidelines at Ford Field. If and when that happens, I know that I will be doing it solely for my love of the sport and not for publicity reasons. Next time you think of cheerleading, maybe try to see it from the perspective of a hard working athlete instead of what you might see as a bottle-blonde girl with poms and a short skirt.
Cover Image Credit: Maggie Marion

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The 6 Teams That Can Win The NCAA Basketball Tournament

Place your bets here.

Trying to get the perfect bracket for the NCAA tournament is next to impossible. You have better odds of becoming the president (1 in 10,000,000) than correctly predicting every single winner for each game (1 in 128 billion). Nearly all of the brackets made have already been busted. What you might have a shot at is correctly picking the team that wins the championship. Here are the teams that you should bet on.

Something you should know before you place your bet is that history favors balanced teams. Out of the last 15 champions, 12 have ranked inside the top 14 in both offensive and defensive efficiencies. This year, the only three teams that fit that category are Duke, Michigan State, and Gonzaga.


Duke will always be a solid bet as long as Coach Mike Krzyzewski remains the head coach. They rank second in the country with their offense and have the 11th-best defense. They’ll most likely have to go through Michigan State and Kansas to get to the final four, but you can always count on them to be competitive with Krzyzewski leading the team. One concern with Duke is they haven’t looked great against dominant teams in their conference like UNC and Virginia. On the bright side, their defense has looked considerably better in the last two weeks.


They have the best offense in the country and the 22nd-ranked defense in the country. They have elite, NBA-ready players with point guard Jalen Brunson and wing Mikal Bridges. Jay Wright is an exceptional coach, and all title winners tend to have one of those. Team chemistry is among the strongest in the country with six redshirt players. This goes against the one-and-done strategy that Kentucky has popularized but is no means a weakness.

Michigan State

Michigan State falls under that category that history tends to favor and have had an impressive season, but don’t assume they’ll walk away with the title. The Midwest region is filled with challenges and Michigan State will have to face Duke and Kansas to reach the final four. They’ve looked dominant behind the play of Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson Jr. all season, but a lost to rival Michigan in their conference tournament semifinal does raise some concerns.

North Carolina

The defending champs might be an uneasy pick considering that it’s rare for a team to win the tournament in back-to-back years; but it’s not impossible, it has been done before. UNC also lost three starters from last year’s team, but they still have senior point guard Joel Berry II. Berry was the Most Outstanding Player for last year’s team and he’s playing just as well this year. UNC relies heavily on the three-point shot, but when they get hot, they can beat anyone.


The No. 1 seed in the Midwest region may have a disadvantage with big man Udoka Azubuike going down with a knee injury that made him miss the Big 12 tournament, but he’s expected to return for the tournament with limited minutes in the early rounds. They’ll need to rely on their depth early on in the tournament. Luckily, Devonte Graham has been great at the point guard position and their shooting ability is among the best in the country.


Gonzaga proved last year that they shouldn’t be overlooked just because of the conference they play in. They’ve dominated their conference and played very close games in each of their four losses. Two of those losses were only one-possession games and one was in double overtime to Florida. They can compete with anybody despite losing Zach Collins and Nigel Williams-Goss from last year and their region is the weakest in the bracket. Their path to the final four will contain less powerhouses than the other teams on this list. They’re one of the most balanced teams in the tournament with a legendary head coach and have one of the easiest paths. They have just as good of a shot as they did last year when they lost in the championship game.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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What Jason Vargas' Injury Means For Zack Wheeler

Injuries continue to shape the Mets.

Yesterday, the Mets announced that newcomer and rotation hopeful Jason Vargas sustained a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand, his non-throwing hand. Vargas suffered the injury after being struck by a line drive during a Spring Training start on Saturday, effectively sidelining the starter until June, at the earliest.

On Sunday, the club announced that Vargas will undergo surgery to repair the fracture, the recovery of which could take anywhere between three and four months. However, the loss of Vargas might be a blessing in disguise for the Mets, as the team has been trying for years to cultivate starting opportunities for a “perfect rotation” that has been in the works since as early as 2012. Now, the “five aces” of the Mets might finally have the opportunity to make 2018 a dream season.

The lethal combination of Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, and Zack Wheeler has never started five consecutive games for the Mets, as it feels like each and every member of the Mets’ “dream rotation” has had their own moment in the spotlight without another pitcher to compliment them. Matt Harvey was the star of 2012 and 2013, starting an All-Star Game and nearly winning a Cy Young Award. 2014 belonged to Jacob DeGrom as he lit up the National League en route to a Rookie of the Year Award. 2015, however, was the year where both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz made their Major League debuts, as they carried the Mets to a World Series appearance, with Harvey and DeGrom by their side.

And yet, despite 2 playoff appearances in the past 3 years, Zack Wheeler has been a missing link for the Mets throughout all of it. Although the starter showed signs of triumph during the 2014 season, constant injuries have plagued his career, allowing him to throw only 86.1 innings over the past three years. Wheeler missed all of 2015 and 2016 following Tommy John surgery, and had his 2017 season cut short after sustaining a stress reaction in his right arm.

But now, with Vargas taking a step to the side following an injury, the door has swung wide open for Wheeler, as a chance at redemption could be on the horizon. Although Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman could pose as potential threats to Wheeler’s rotation spot, the Mets organization has had faith in their 5-man “dream rotation” for years now, and with a perfect opportunity in front of them, it would only make sense for the Mets to reap the long-awaited fruits of their labor by giving the fifth and final rotation spot to Zack Wheeler.

Finally, it seems as if this long-structured plan is coming to fruition, and with Jason Vargas out of the picture for the time being, Wheeler has the ultimate chance to reclaim what was once his. For the Mets, the dream of creating a “perfect rotation” could finally come true as soon as next month, with Wheeler rounding things out, just like the organization planned over 6 years ago.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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