Sounds of hard-work, coupled with grunts and heavy breathing, fill the air; those watching are greeted with fantastic moves, like jumps in mid-air or someone on the ground doing the splits.
When people in Webster, think of sports, football, baseball, tennis, swimming or others featured on ESPN come to mind.
When people think of cheerleading, dance or color guard, the thing that comes to mind is “That’s not a sport.”
A sport, as defined by the dictionary, is “Activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others,” and that definitely includes cheerleading, dance and color guard.
My question to those who say these activities are not sports is, “Can you do what they do?” Have you ever been to a competitive cheer, dance or guard competition? Have you ever sat in on the cheerleaders Turkey Day stunts? Have you ever been to a typical dance team practice? Have you ever held a color guard flag?
Perhaps stigmatism, that these activities are “girly” sports, is what causes people to say these aren’t “sports,” that they’re simply “activities.” Here’s a newsflash. The people, which does include both guys and girls, work hours of hard practice to give a good show.
These teams deserve your praise, just like the football team does because even if they don’t compete, they still worked hard to bring you a product, be it a Turkey Day cheer, new dance or new choreography.
Cheerleaders possess good gymnastic or tumbling skills and amazing arm strength to lift each other in the air. Cheerleaders also must stand in front of everyone and get an otherwise unenthused crowd, pumped up and excited for the game.
It’s expected that when the players perform an outstanding feat, the crowd gets excited, but say the team is losing? Who are the ones who give players and crowd, the encouragement to keep going? Our cheerleaders.
Dancers possess amazing flexibility but also perform feats that have people wincing in pain, just by watching. You have to count the steps in your head, and trust me that’s hard, especially for a math-challenged person, such as myself. All those great shows at pre-game and half time also contribute to getting the crowd pumped up, and that’s not an easy feat.
Guard members possess arm strength because those flags are no joke, and it’s difficult to be as synchronized as possible. Practice isn’t something to laugh at either. If a mistake is made, it’s easily seen, so they practice for as long and as hard they can.
If you believe these aren’t sports, there’s not much I can do to change your minds, but if you spent a practice in their shoes, you would be astounded at how much they practice and how hard they work to make what looks like an easy show.
I challenge you to go up to a member and ask if she can teach you how to do a flag routine. Try asking a cheerleader if she’ll teach you how to do a toe touch or basket toss. If you can, ask a dance team member if she’ll teach you a quick one-minute dance routine to do at the next dance or talent show with friends.
If you really don’t want to do any of that, next time you see a guard member, a cheerleader or a dance team member, then the least you can do is tell them, “Good job!”