Every single one of you has probably heard someone say, “Cheerleaders aren’t athletes.” It’s unfortunate that so many people think that what cheerleaders do isn’t considered athletic. The reasons people don’t think cheerleaders are athletes stem from the stereotype that cheerleaders just smile and shout cheers at the audience. That is just one tiny element of cheer. Along with boosting spirits, cheerleaders dance, tumble, jump, toss, fly, throw, and flip. In order to bust this myth, we must first ask, what is an athlete? An athlete, according to the dictionary, is “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.” It’s safe to say then that to be an athlete you have to be physically fit and you have to train and practice specific skill sets required by the game, exercise, or sport in which you’re participating. So, what do cheerleaders do? 1) Cheerleaders constantly practice, improving their own skills as well as team routines 2) Cheerleaders are trained by coaches and learn new skills, stunts, and routines regularly 3) Cheerleaders workout consistently, building their strength and stamina 4) Cheerleaders learn stunts that are dangerous and that require time and repetition in order to learn and perfect 5) Cheerleaders bruise, break bones, sweat, and fall in the process of learning or performing stunts and routines If that’s not an athlete, then what is? In order to keep up with the squad, cheerleaders must eat healthy, workout daily, and practice, practice, practice. Without enough energy (from both eating right and exercising), there is a greater risk of getting hurt. What cheerleaders do is no different than a football player, golfer, diver, or lacrosse player. Just replace “routine” with “play,” and “stunt” with “move” and you’ve got the same thing. The only difference is cheerleaders can fly in the air, catch people instead of balls, and wear cuter uniforms. For those who think cheer is glamorous all the time, think again. During performances cheerleaders may wear glitter makeup, hair bows, and skirts, but that’s anything but the case during practice. Just like any other athlete, cheerleaders are sweating in practice wear. Cheer is one of the most dangerous school activities and doctors are urging schools and organizations to treat cheerleaders as athletes and agree that cheer is a sport. Do you know someone who thinks cheerleaders aren’t athletes? How do you deal with the stereotypes? Sound off and leave us a comment!