Cheerleading Should Be Banned for Girls and Boys Aged Under 18 for Excessive Sexualization of This Type of Sport
Sport is a kind of activity which unites people of different ages, races, and nationalities. Everyone wants to raise the spirit of a favorite football, basketball or baseball team. There are different ways to cheer on the players: draw the posters, wear the symbolic clothes, and shout the slogans. These actions create a special atmosphere of competition and support which helps the team to be more confident. One of the most popular ways of expressing support of teams is cheerleading. Hearing this word, people imagine girls wearing short skirts, bright tops, white socks, sneakers, and, of course, with pom-poms in their hands. However, not only girls are the participants of a cheerleading team. Boys are imagined like tall, well-built, and muscular. They wear beautiful T-shirts and sexy trousers. The members of cheerleading teams are always perceived as popular persons in the educational institutions. Cheerleading is considered to be a traditional type of sport which includes dancing and shouting different cheers to support the players. But it is true to say that it often causes some arguments. The main direction of the negative points is connected with a high level of cheerleaders’ sexuality. While some people believe cheerleading is the best way to raise the spirit of the team, others are sure that it should be banned for girls and boys aged under 18 for excessive sexualization.
To start with, the country where cheerleading started is America. The USA introduced this kind of sport with the aim to make sports competitions more like celebrations. The teams of cheerleaders were created in school, colleges, and universities. Boys and girls train every day to be prepared for the day of competitions. They learn stunts, shout slogans and prepare the costumes. The performance usually takes from three to five minutes and is aimed to encourage both the audience and the team (Hanson). “The two major types are the traditional “cheer on the sports” and competitive cheerleading” (Ruiz). It is true to say that usual school cheerleading is rather a kind of social activity. Competitive cheerleading is more skills-based and requires a higher level of preparation. It “relies on the typical gymnastics tumbling and stunting, which is just holding the girls up in the air in different ways” (Ruiz). Some participants even attend special skills-based colleges and university. So, it is faithfully to perceive cheerleading as a sport which needs a certain level of physical preparation and special skills, which takes a lot of time for training and which is as competitive as the match of a team itself. But still, cheerleading creates some disagreements among some people because of its excessive sexualization.
Cheerleaders are often thought to have a too sexualized image. “Yelling, twirling, wearing very short skirts and bare midriffs, and hunky guys who hold them up after they kick and grind and unveil rictus smiles to the crowd” (Dobel). For a lot of people, cheerleaders are useless as they take the attention of the audience to their bodies. Some people even cannot focus on the match itself. “They parade an alternative definition of women projecting sexualized supporting objects on the sidelines” (Dobel). Cheerleaders, well-shaped and in their bright clothing are at the center of people’s attention, especially men’s. They make photos with young girls, hug them, and ask the questions. That is why even small girls of the age of about five want rather be a cheerleader than a professional player in a basketball team (Dobel).
However, parents often complain about cheerleading as a kind of sport. They feel uncomfortable seeing young female dancers performing in the front of males. The idea of a girl taken as a sexual object is easily formed in the minds of the girls aged from 5 to 10 that sexuality is the main thing which makes people pay attention to you (Ratcliffe). “Cheerleading is a symptom of the wider sexualization of female athletes” (Ratcliffe). Instead of high results in sports and great achievements, girls think only about their body. All the training is aimed to form an ideal appearance for other people to like them.
Considering the clothing of cheerleaders, it is true to say about the too skimpy outfit. On the one hand, in the modern world teenagers do not wear too-grown-up clothing. But on the other hand, their bodies are almost uncovered, and it makes the male part of the audience stare at the dancers all the time. It even resembles a kind of exhibition where the girls are the exhibits. Besides, serious matches are broadcast on the television and cheerleaders are at the forefront of the translation. This kind of sport is used as the marketing hook: “marketing, marketing pure and simple, look at the demographics” (Dobel). The organizations give the audience all that they want: physical attractiveness and performance. And without any doubts, cheerleading makes the matches more attended, and the translations more watched.
The idea of banning cheerleading for girls and boys aged under 18 seems right for people who take care of the roles of women and men in society. Females, seeing as candy in the eyes of the opposite sex, reflect the general idea of women’s position. “Cheerleading implies that women’s proper role is to support men, smile at men and fulfill the sexual fantasies of males” (Harris, Sophia). If a person does research, he or she would admit that the keywords “hottest cheerleaders” are on the top (Harris). And young boys and girls, susceptible to learning the primary things of the world, take it as a norm. They modify their way of behavior, set new goals and follow new dreams. Instead of it, females have the same rights for being on the field as males do. Some great women athletes achieve much better results than men. That is why their place is not on the sidelines (Harris).
NFL (National Football League), a professional football league in America, also has some arguments against cheerleading. It aims to present the women as the participants of serious sports. They encourage females to take the leading positions in the world of sports competitions. At the same time, general roles of women across America “require them to wear glittery booty shorts and pose in bikini calendars” (Ryan). The role of women is seen as the application to men, just the object that has no use except sexuality. “It uses cheerleaders in a way that reduces women in sports to stereotypes” (Ryan). That is why NFL, having the aim to make women more respected, should get rid of cheerleaders and their general image. The way how a girl is portrayed creates a general image which influences worldviews and values both kids and teenagers. That is why the right decision should be connected with banning cheerleading at least for boys and girls under 18.
In conclusion, the sport is favorite leisure time for a lot of people. They like both watching matches on the television or attend competitions themselves. The organizers make some attempts to create a special atmosphere for fans and players to feel the spirit of sports struggle. Cheerleading is one of the most popular components of any football, basketball or baseball match. But the idea of cheerleading as a traditional sport for both boys and girls is sometimes not positively perceived by some people. Cheerleaders who wear bright mini-skirts, tops, and glittering sneakers form the wrong model of a woman. Boys and girls at the very young age observe the situation where females are just the application for males. The idea of sexual purpose is the leading one in the image of any cheerleader. Wearing skimpy outfit and smiling, girls are paid the attention of the male part of the audience. Without doubts, banning cheerleading for teenagers aged under 18 is the great thing as it would ruin the stereotypes about male and females roles in the society. Besides, women are successful athletes themselves and can take part in serious competitions as men do. That is why some famous sports leagues as NFL support the idea of the danger of cheerleading to make women more respectable and destroy the image of candy in the eyes of men.
Dobel, J. Patrick. “Let’s Ban Cheerleaders from Women’s Sports.” Point of the Game, 2010, pointofthegame.blogspot.com/2010/11/lets-bancheerleaders-from-womens.html.
Hanson, Mary Ellen. Go! Fight! Win!: Cheerleading in American Culture. Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1995.
Harris, Sophia. “Is It Time to Ban Professional Cheerleading?” CBC News, 2014, www.cbc.ca/news/business/pro-cheerleading-should-be-abolished1.2763429.
Ratcliffe, Rebecca. “Is Cheerleading in Schools Sexist?” The Guardian, 2015.
Ruiz, Paolo. “What Is It Like to Be a Male Cheerleader?” Huffpost, 2015, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/quora/what-is-it-like-to-be-am_b_7177092.html.
Ryan, Shannon. “Time for NFL to End Use of Cheerleaders.” Chicago Tribune, 2016.
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