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Cheerleading - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
I'm watching Bring It On, which is a surprisingly enjoyable movie. But it made me realize something. When I was in school, cheerleaders ran around in their uniforms all the time. But I haven't seen a cheerleader outside of school for years, despite working with high school students. Is it just a regional thing, or is it, like the Miss America pageant, one of those things that's going out of style?

Just wondering.
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chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: March 26th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
In my school, the cheerleaders wore their uniforms with dress pants instead of the skirts on days when there was a game (maybe just an away game?) to go to, but not just on regular days. But then, cheerleaders weren't anything special at my school - I think it was the field hockey players that were It.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 26th, 2006 10:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think it was just game days, but they'd be in in their skirts and the whole shebang all day. Of course, I think it was just game days--it's not like I was actually paying attention!
sparkly_stuff From: sparkly_stuff Date: March 26th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well I graduated high school in 2000, but I went to HS in Texas where cheerleading is a huge deal. It was definitely one of those stereotypical things where the cheerleaders were popular and everyone knew who they were. I don't remember seeing them in uniform outside of school though, if that's what you're asking, but I think the coaches were just strict on where and when they can wear them (and they are expensive). And of course my college had cheerleaders too. So god yes, cheerleading is still around, at least in the South. I used to hate cheerleaders, when I had to put up with them in HS, but now I have more respect for them after being friends with a male cheerleader in college. Have you seen the new Lifetime reality show Cheerleader Nation? It follows a HS cheer squad in Tennessee (I think) and their moms who are like scary stage moms. It's strangely addicting.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 26th, 2006 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
When one of my friends--Jenny D--tried out for the squad (and made it!), we all teased her about being a traitor to the nerd tribe. ;) Seriously, I've had very little other exposure to them. It looks difficult, but for me, the worst part about cheerleading would be having to attend games.
author_by_night From: author_by_night Date: March 26th, 2006 10:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
At my old HS, I think they really only wore them when a game was going on, and I'm pretty sure they'd change after school. All groups that had to wear uniforms - Chorus, band - were like that. Especially in the winter.
shake_n_shimmy From: shake_n_shimmy Date: March 26th, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was a cheerleader in the freshman center, and we weren't really popular (though I found out years later that all my good guy friends that I met there only sat near me because of the uniform xD little ol' naive me).

Um, in HS the cheerleaders wore their uniform on gameday and for homecoming pep rallies. Everyone wanted to be/could be a cheerleader, though, I know the tryouts usually drew a lot of girls. It was like four days of tryouts too o_O
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 26th, 2006 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe someone can answer a question I have about cheerleading and sport. I'm English, living in Australia. Neither countries has a tradition of cheer-leading; it's creeping into some of the top level football games but not into schools. I admit I really dislike the idea of cheer-leading: it seems to be girls on the sidelines supporting the boys who actually get to play and represent the school. I can see that the dancing and gymnastics involved is difficult and disciplined but I still don't like the premise. But, as I've said, it's an alien culture to me so it may well be just cultural ignorance on my part and I just don't "get it." What I know about it is mostly gleaned from USA high school movies and, even when I was a teenager I never watched many of them. So, what I want to know is: is that it for girls? There never seems to be any mention of girls representing the school in sport just as cheer-leaders. I'm really hoping that this is just a limitation of the movies and not true of real life but could people please enlighten me!

fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 26th, 2006 11:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
No, there's plenty of girls' sports out there. They don't get as much attention (though basketball and soccer are getting there), but they definitely exist. They've always been there, too--we have an exhibit in the library showing turn-of-the-century girls' basketball teams. (Er, that would be 1900-ish... I guess we've turned another one!) Cheerleading was the most popular for a long time, probably because it was a place where the girls would be front and center in a high-profile game instead of "just" playing softball or whatnot. With winning soccer teams, the WNBA, and so on, I wonder if that could be part of why it's losing its influence. It also got a reputation as a "popular" thing to do, the counterparts of the football players in the social hierarchy, so its status went up just for social reasons... for awhile, being popular and being a cheerleader were more or less synonymous terms. It developed into a sport in its own right somewhere along the line, and there are tournaments now where the cheerleaders aren't actually leading any other sports, they're just cheering.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 26th, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
(There are also male cheerleaders, of course. But the major wrong note that Bring It On had was the presence of nearly half a squad of them in several high schools. Unless things have changed radically, they'd have a hard time getting one.)
gabrielladusult From: gabrielladusult Date: March 27th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC) (Link)
In large schools where cheerleading is big (as the school in Bring it On was), guys do join the squads -- if you watch even a bit of the competitions on ESPN, you'd see that was a fairly accurate portrayal. But -- smaller schools who merely have squads for the sole purpose of cheering their school teams (as opposed to representing their schools in actualy cheering competitions) generally have a small squad of women cheerleaders. And, there are all female squads that enter the competitions too but there are more men than your experiences might lead you to believe. I came from a smaller school and remember being shocked the first time I saw a high-school competition at how many young men were participating.

Colleges are a totally different story. I went to the Naval Academy which was 90% male and we had ample men on our cheer-squad, as did most of the other teams we played in football. I had a friend who went to the Air Force Academy who had to try out for the cheer squad in his last year because he lost a bet -- he was as shocked as anyone when he made the squad and had the time of his life travelling with the teams and going to cheer camps etc. Guys who mock male cheerleaders just don't know what they're missing.

I never cheered -- my older sister did, so that's where most of my knowledge comes from.
arclevel From: arclevel Date: March 27th, 2006 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't particularly follow cheerleading as a sport, but my understanding is that there are two separate competitions: one for coed teams (which would be nearly half male among the competitive teams, as in BIO) and another for all-girls teams. I could be wrong about that, though.

I went to a large high school that didn't have any guys on any of the squads, but I don't know if that was their policy or if none ever tried out. There was a fairly big kerfuffle when one of the guys in the marching band wanted to join the color guard -- all the girls on the squad wanted him to join; the parents in the Band Boosters didn't. I think they eventually decided that guys could join the Winter Guard (which was a separate entity that competed on its own) but not the Color Guard (which was the group that marched with the band).
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: March 26th, 2006 11:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
In supplement to Fern's reply, once you get to the university level, there are also male cheerleaders. They end up being the "support" partner for lifts and throws and the bases of human pyramids, due to mass and upper body strength... They don't dress as skimpily, though. *snort*

Okay, to be fair, my high school had one male cheerleader for a year or two while I was there. I suspect him of having tried out partly to make a point or something. But I remember noticing that they didn't use him much for the throws and stuff, probably because he started relatively late and the girls who'd been training for a while might've been more reliable and quite possibly stronger. :P
arclevel From: arclevel Date: March 27th, 2006 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
In the early 1970s, a law called Title IX was passed that required gender equality for all sorts of school programs for both high schools and colleges. It actually applies to a lot of things, but everyone thinks of it in terms of requiring girls' sports teams. I'd say the average large American high school has boy's football (with about 40 athletes), baseball, basketball, soccer, track and cross-country, tennis, and swimming; they may also have ice hockey, golf, lacrosse, and a few other things depending on the school. The girls generally have the same set except for softball instead of baseball and volleyball (with about 15 athletes) instead of football; also, they're less likely to have ice hockey but much more likely to have field hockey. The cheerleading squads are on top of that. At most schools where the squads aren't involved in competitions, I don't think they're really considered a sports team, even though they're in the athletics department and everyone acknowledges that it is extremely athletic.

So all that was a very long way of saying, no, there are girls sports, too. However, most people still pay the most attention to the boys sports. A big reason for that (and why cheerleaders get the most attention) is that football is far and away the biggest high school sport in this country. In a lot of small towns, the entire town culture revolves around the local school team. Students may or may not care about the other sports (especially boys' basketball and girls' soccer in my experience), and the athletes' parents certainly care, but most other people tend not to notice them unless they've got a specific reason.
victorialupin From: victorialupin Date: March 26th, 2006 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
In my area, it seems to really be going out of style. My school wins a lot of games, holds many records in the area and has dozens of different teams, but we don't even have cheerleaders. The dance students will occasionally do something for a really important event, but the concept of cheerleading seems to be going out of style in general.
rikibeth From: rikibeth Date: March 26th, 2006 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Class of '87 and my school didn't have cheerleaders THEN. We practically didn't have jocks -- the gods in our pantheon were the leading actors.

So I can't be any help.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 26th, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dude, I love your school--doing plays in my school more or less meant you were a geek!
rikibeth From: rikibeth Date: March 26th, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cambridge School of Weston, proud home to artsy freaks for decades.
glishara From: glishara Date: March 27th, 2006 12:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Holy cow! I went there, too! Class of '98, though.
rikibeth From: rikibeth Date: March 27th, 2006 12:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Was it still like that?
glishara From: glishara Date: March 27th, 2006 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, most definitely. I was actually kind of half-in that group; I was in something like nine plays my senior year, so stayed with the other acting nuts. It was a strange and surreal experience after being in public school.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: March 26th, 2006 11:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
I liked my school. The valedictorian the year before mine was on the football team and was my Quiz Bowl captain.
arclevel From: arclevel Date: March 27th, 2006 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, two or three of the dozen varsity cheerleaders at my school graduated with 4.0+ GPAs. We constantly saw sports jerseys (for our teams, that is) in the honors and AP classes. For that matter, four to six of our teachers who taught AP classes were also head coaches for some sports team or other. One day my AP chem teacher declared that he wasn't going to sit down that day because his JV football team had gotten their butts kicked so badly the day before. Another time, the AP physics teacher shaved his head for celebration and/or a bet when his varsity girls' soccer team won some championship.
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: March 27th, 2006 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)
...You know, our AP physics teacher ended up with a shaved head for something, but I can't think what it was.
hermia7 From: hermia7 Date: March 26th, 2006 11:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
My HS prized its men's and women's varsity soccer teams above all else--our football was awful, and the cheerleaders were so sad. It was a handful of girls who were dumb enough that they didn't realize that being a cheerleader wouldn't let them into the in crowd. Our football team consistently won an award for having the highest cumulative GPA of any team in the state, heh. I think the cheerleaders did wear their uniforms on game days, but then, so did we drama geeks--I spent several days during a run of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead attending English class in my Ophelia dresses!
delleve From: delleve Date: March 27th, 2006 12:02 am (UTC) (Link)
The cheerleaders at my school only wear their uniforms on game days, as far as I've noticed. Some of the cheerleaders are "popular" at my school, but that isn't really just because they're a cheerleader. Really, all of the cheerleaders at my school don't even hang out with each other very much (well, some of them do, but you won't ever see a mass of 10 cheerleaders coming at you).

Then again, my school really just kind of fails at almost everything sports related. XD
gabrielladusult From: gabrielladusult Date: March 27th, 2006 12:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I remember being surprised at how much I liked Bring It On. Being as far from the cheerleading clan as a girl could get in my school (though I did try out a couple of times -- mostly because my sister did it and I thought -- hey, I've had 10 years of dance, I can do as good as the cows we have on the squad now). Our cheerleaders wore their uniforms on game days and any pre-announced spirit day.

What you're describing reminds me of Brittany in Daria. I totally loved that show -- all the stereotypes were spot-on.
akashasheiress From: akashasheiress Date: March 27th, 2006 09:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love Daria!
lady_sarai From: lady_sarai Date: March 27th, 2006 12:23 am (UTC) (Link)
I went to high school in a town near Portland, Maine and I never saw the cheerleaders in their uniforms unless it was AT a game.
miss_eponine From: miss_eponine Date: March 27th, 2006 12:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I cheered in high school and college, but we didn't wear our uniforms except for games and pep rallies.

I occasionally encounter cheerleaders dressed in their uniforms at restaurants, but they're more often dressed in matching warm-up suits than their uniforms.

I don't know if it's regional, but I live in the South.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 27th, 2006 01:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for all the comments about sport for girls at US schools. Obviously girls do play sport - look at all the medals the USA win at the Olympics and they have one of the top national womens soccer teams in the world - but the emphasis on Tv and the movies seems to be boys on the team and girls cheer-leading. I suppose that it is the non-sport aspects of this that makes for the plot rather than the sport itself and I can see that girls in cheer-leading outfits are more "photogenic" and glamourous than girls playing hockey. I'm glad the girls get a chance too.

austenrowling From: austenrowling Date: March 27th, 2006 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I love Bring It On. I haven't seen a cheerleader since I was in high school, but then I don't hang around high school aged kids, so I wouldnt have much of a chance to see if they wear their outfits or not.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 27th, 2006 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)
Judging by the movies, I would guess that a lot of writers, producers, directors, and others in Hollywood were the guys in school who either couldn't get a girl to go out with them or never had the nerve to ask and who are now making up for it with a very vivid fantasy life.

greyashowl From: greyashowl Date: March 27th, 2006 05:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Easily one of my top ten movies and I have never seen a cheerleader in RL (living in Australia we don't have any, except in sport that I don't care for). The movie is a crack up.

I don't know if it is going out of style over there except we still get bits and peices when they show it on ESPN. I wonder though, if they actually are the cheerleaders for games (at their school) or if another set of cheerleaders at the school are used for that and they simply focus on winning national comps.
purple_ladybug1 From: purple_ladybug1 Date: March 27th, 2006 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I don't know how it is elsewhere, but in my small southern hometown, cheerleaders only wore their uniforms on game days. Then they wore them to school, the rest of the day, and to the game. Sometimes I'd see cheerleaders after a game in their uniforms at the mall, but not often.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 27th, 2006 02:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, at my tiny little high school, we had neither a football team nor cheerleaders, despite being in the South. Our girls' volleyball team did really well while I was there, and since then I believe both the boys' and girls' soccer teams have done well.

We did have a few snotty student section cheers. The one that I remember was "Demosthenes! Demosthenes! The Peloponnesian War! X squared, Y squared, H2So4!" We lost a lot of games. ;)

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