Sexist Cheerleading?

By Cori Baishiki, Clarion Staff Reporter

“The cheerleaders here only cheer for the boys and never the girls.” 

“What? Why?”

“The coach doesn’t like when the girls cheer for girls. Says it looks weird.”

When I heard the statement above, I couldn’t help but have empathy for the girls at Kennedy and feel upset. As a two-year middle-school cheerleader at Sutter Middle School (SMS), I never thought about how cheering for only boys could affect the other teams. At Sutter, the cheerleaders would cheer for both teams. The team we cheered for only depended on which team played at home that day. Gender didn’t matter. 

How this fact has been true for so many years and that no one has said anything about it amazes me. Yet, I’m not the only one that has thought about why this happens. 

One student spoke on condition of anonymity:

The cheerleaders perform their routine at the Homecoming Rally in the stadium on October 18th, 2019. Photo by Fang Chiang, Clarion Staff Photographer.

“In my opinion, it seems stupid. Why only cheer for boys and not girls? Don’t the girls deserve the same amount of support as the boys?”

Cheerleaders cheer for one main reason: to support and motivate our teams. When the opposing teams’ fans are jeering at you, you feel pressured and stressed, and therefore, you need someone to cheer you on and remind you that “You are number 1.” The most important job of a cheerleader is to be a crowd leader. The job of a crowd leader is to connect the audience to the team. They should understand the sport they are cheering for, to know what cheer to chant at appropriate times. 

Without cheerleaders at the girls’ basketball games, crowds won’t be invested in games, which usually isn’t a problem at the boys’ games.

Let’s not jump to conclusions, though; maybe the cheerleaders have a reason for only cheering for boys. Former cheerleaders at Kennedy, who asked to stay anonymous, also shared their opinion:

“To be honest, I don’t really care who we’re cheering for. I find [cheering for only one team] nicer, because then we don’t have as many practices and games that distract me from homework and chores.”

“I really don’t know why we don’t cheer for the girls basketball team but I would like to.”

I can understand how cheering for both games can take away time from a cheerleader’s other priorities, but by becoming a cheerleader they should be devoting lots of their time to supporting and cheering on the players. Cheering can help motivate basketball players to make that last layup to tie the game. So, even if cheering takes up their time cheerleaders made the decision to dedicate their time.

Joanne Jenkins, former Kennedy Cheer Coach, could not be reached for comment for this article.

The question of why the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the girls has not yet been answered, but from the insights provided by the cheerleaders they are curious about the answer too.

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