In the popular imagination, cheerleaders wear tiny outfits while dancing, cheering, and serving as eye candy on the sidelines for male athletes.
But in an interesting Wall Street Journal article on cheerleading that traces its history and changes, it's acknowledged that although that "earthbound" kind of cheerleading can still be seen at NFL games, an emerging (and potentially dangerous) kind of cheerleading called "stunt cheerleading" is increasing the number of cheerleading injuries.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the number of injuries from cheerleading accidents has more
than quadrupled in 25 years. One source said that in 2007 alone, 26,786 cheerleaders went to the emergency room for injuries. In January of this year, Wisconsin's Supreme Court ruled that cheerleading is a contact sport, a decision that means cheerleaders can't sue their schools or teammates if they get hurt.
At Xtreme Tumbling and Cheer Gym in Antioch, CA, members are competing for full scholarships and hope to catch the eye of college scouts at cheer competitions. Coach Kelly Allen says that the gym's motto is, "Motrin and ice, ladies, let's go."
I think it's great that cheerleading has evolved into a sport, but is the new respect it's accorded at odds with the original (and mostly gendered) purpose of women at the sidelines to cheer male athletes on? What do you think about the symbolism of cheerleading — is it outdated?