So, I am sure you have heard about cheerleading being recognized provisionally as a sport for the Olympics. You’ve probably seen a meme or two floating around the Internet spreading the news, with pictures and videos of Bring It On or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders accompanying it as well. Hey! You may have even shared one of those articles yourself.

The excitement that this news has brought up is something that has been building up inside of us for years as we have fought hard for our sport to be recognized for what it is… an actual sport. Even with the newfound provisional status granted to competitive cheer by the International Olympic Committee, there are still people who highly oppose the making of cheer to be a sport, much less become a sport within the Olympics.

We have let our excitement get the best of us as we support the circulation of these stereotypical videos throughout social media. These memes and articles that are traveling around aren’t portraying what true competitive cheerleading is; it only shows the image people see in their heads of what they think cheerleaders are. By retweeting, sharing, and posting these videos, we are essentially further constructing the vast majority of commoner’s views of us, and our “hobby,” which doesn’t help our case at all.

So, you may ask… how do we stop the stereotyping of cheerleading?

First of all, we need to stop the sharing of these videos with dancers and other sideline cheerleaders within them. Instead, share a video of your all-star team at a competition with the news attached to that in its place. Educate your fellow peers by showing them that we don’t use pom poms, or even scream chants in support (or in opposition) of another team while competing. In competitive cheerleading, even though we compete against each other, we all still consider each other family. There is no bitter rivalry going on, just overall support of each program and their individual success.

Another way we can educate people and stop the stereotypical views that cheerleaders carry with them is you can invite your friends to one of your competitions. Showing them that competitive cheerleading doesn’t take place on the sidelines at football games, but it takes place in huge arenas, on stages lit with hundreds of lights, as thousands of people are sitting around screaming and yelling for you, is a great way to open their eyes and allow them to see the difficulty of our sport.

So even though some people still don’t recognize cheerleading as a true sport, we still possess the opportunity to continue to educate others on how exciting and powerful our sport can be! We should take this occasion in strides, as we now have the potential to become Olympic Champions… how great does that sound?!

McKenzie Henderson

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