If you think cheerleading is feminine, you’ve spent too much time watching Laker Girls

The Sports Minister reckons cheerleading is a nice ‘feminine’ sport for unathletic girls. Exeter’s Club Captain Alicia says she couldn’t be more wrong

cheerleading Feminine Helen Grant Minister of Sport sport the tab the tab exeter UK Sport

So, Helen Grant wants women who feel “unfeminine” playing sport to take up cheerleading.

As a cheerleader, I fully endorse increasing participation. If she thinks the sport is feminine, though, she has spent far too much time watching Laker Girls.

Lake Girls

Yes, we wear skirts. Yes, we do the splits. But there is so much more to cheerleading that she has failed to take into account.

The most important of these is danger.

If you’re too scared to run at a girl yielding a lacrosse stick, or you flinch at a netball being thrown at you then you have no chance when 8st of girl is twisting form 10 feet in the air trusting you to catch her.

cheer 1

Then there are the injuries: you aren’t a cheerleader until you’ve had a real injury.

I once coached a team where a flyer (the girl in the air) stepped on her base’s face and bent all the teeth in her mouth.

Once we got to the hospital we were told that, if it wasn’t for her braces, all of her teeth would have come out.

Probably not the feminine image you had in mind, Helen.

cheer

Granted, cheerleading does fill a void in sports.

I find it a rare combination of team and individual: you have to get your jumps high but when a girls goes into the air, it’s the team’s responsibility to keep her up and then bring her down safely – evident in the picture below.

bruises (1)

Ouch.

As painful as it looks, I can guarantee you she prefers those bruises to falling head first on to the floor.

In labelling the sport as feminine, Grant is also negating the hard work put in by literally thousands of boys in the sport.

Admittedly, in this rugby-­heavy university we don’t have many male cheerleaders.

There's even an all-male cheerleading team

There’s even an all-male cheerleading team

However, if you look at any of the top squads both here in the UK and in America, the squads have an almost 50/50 split.

Of course I am happy that my sport is being recognised and appreciated more, but I would encourage the Minister of Sport to give it a go before she brands it as “feminine” and assumes it is any easier than traditional sports.