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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7 Things That Annoy Volleyball Players More Than Anything

How to get under a volleyball player's skin in two seconds.

I'm not sure why but volleyball players are a very particular group of people — we like what we like and we HATE what we don't, especially when it is volleyball-related. If you're a volleyball player, I'm sure you can relate to this list and if you're not a volleyball player, now you know exactly how you will be able to get under our skin.

1. Girls who wear spandex in public

Don’t get me wrong, we wear spandex for a living. We understand WHY people wear them to workout. But wearing them to the dining hall, class or anywhere that isn’t the gym… please don’t. Put on some shorts or leggings — PLEASE.

2. The “I’ll beat you in volleyball” line

For some odd reason when someone who likes you finds out that you play volleyball, they say this. I’m not sure why, but its really annoying that people think they’re better than you (a collegiate athlete) at the sport you’ve been playing your whole life.

3. When guys mention that they only come to your games because you wear spandex

You’re right, why would any appreciate our athletic ability when you can simply appreciate our butts.

4. Freshman who don’t think they have to do their Freshman duties

PSA: Every single school has freshman duties; YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY FRESHMAN WHO HAVE TO DO THEM. Everyone has done them when they were a freshman. Stop complaining, do your duties, and play volleyball because after your freshman season you’ll never have to do it again.

5. When people try to tell you that volleyball isn’t hard

Why don’t you jump for three hours straight and throw your body on the ground hundreds of times and tell me how easy it is.

6. The word "spike"

I honestly feel bad about hating this so much but nothing nothing NOTHING annoys us more than when someone uses the work "spike". For some reason this word went out of style a longgggg time ago and nobody got the memo except the people in the volleyball world. Instead of telling your friend that they had a good spike, tell them that they had a great "hit." HIT = SPIKE.

7. Balls that aren't perfectly blown up

Volleyball players are hands down the most high maintenance group of people when it comes to our sport. I will go through an entire ball cart to find the best ball possible... if the ball is flat, no matter what contact you make it is going to be bad. If the ball is too hard, no matter what contact you make it is going to be bad.

Cover Image Credit: Sam

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Out With Old, In with New [Soccer Teams]

FIFA 2018 Brings Unforeseen Emotions, Sets New Heights in Russia


June 14 was not just an ordinary Thursday. For over 32 nations and millions of people worldwide, that was the beginning of their own Hunger Games: the 21st FIFA World Cup. I, too, was in ecstasy to see young men fight in a battle for athletic superiority and the chance for their nation's flag to be held high so everyone could see. However, as the matches progressed and the brackets tightened, the only positive aspect of the tournament was the hilarious, witty Volkswagen and Bud Light commercials.

Every 4 years, FIFA, the International Federation for Football, host the World Cup tournament in a different nation based on a bid. The most recent tournament in 2014 was hosted in Brazil, and Germany was crowned the champion after a very slight defeat against the Argentinians led by Lionel Messi.

This year, Russia got the winning bid to host the World Cup in stadiums throughout the western part of the country. Some of the stadiums were located in cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Kaliningrad and Saransk to name a few. As the host, Russia received the opportunity to play in the cup and fared out really well in the competition.

Coverage by FOX News and ESPN gave me the opportunity to relish an athletic marvel from the comfort of home. As the days went by so did my hopes for the expected countries to reign supreme. Early on in the tournament, Lionel Messi's leadership made his team crumble apart right away in the Round of 16 against Paul Pogba and the French. Likewise, Cristiano Ronaldo's predictable angles for shooting goals left the Portuguese surprisingly devastated in the Round of 16 as well against Suarez's uncanny victory for Uruguay.

As the tournament progressed, the stakes got higher and the geographic strength of narrowed. By the Quarterfinals, the goal-shooting prowess eliminated Latin America, with Brazil being the last to go, such that the tournament became an exclusively European club. The quarterfinals ignited the shots that shocked the world because, for the first time in FIFA history, neither Brazil nor Argentina qualified for the semi-finals.

In the European circuit, Belgium, Russia, and Croatia showed all of their might against unfamiliar faces throughout the month. Belgium was undefeated throughout the tournament until losing in the semifinals to France; Russia shined rather bright until their head was slain by the Croatians for a seat in the finals against France.

The ultimate battle will unveil itself to the world in just a few days, so we will see who reigns supreme: the French or the Croatians on July 15. It will be a game like no other.

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