Cheerleading Is a Sport and Spirit Fingers Are Not A Thing: 49 Things Only Cheerleaders Understand

When I first started cheerleading, I was definitely more Missy Pantone than Torrance Shipman. Yes, in the beginning, I too fell into the camp of "cheerleading isn't a sport" — that was, until we got into competition season. Then I learned.

Beneath the prom curls, the barely-there uniforms, and the blue eyeshadow, cheerleaders are serious athletes that literally put their lives on the line every time they step on the mat (tell me you've never gasped at a #cheerleadingfail gif or video). Do you know what it takes to hoist a girl — even one that weighs just 100 pounds — over your head? Do you know how hard it is to do a back flip with a full twist on a rubber basketball court? Do you know how much practice it takes to perfectly sync a routine for a team that includes nearly 20 girls?

You probably don't, because you've probably been writing cheerleaders off as a rah-rah spirit squad for years. And, as a result, you're underestimating their strength, their athleticism, and their skill. Oh, and it is a sport — the American Medical Association even said so earlier this month.

By the end of my tenure on my high school's squad, I was varsity captain (mostly because the football squad girls boycotted the team after a fight with our coach, but hey, it still counts). Since then, I've had a healthy respect for any girl who puts on her school or team's cheer uniform. Because once you've done it, you know — there are a few things only we cheerleaders can truly understand.

Cheerleading isn’t a real sport, says everyone

Oh, really?

then I’d like to see you do this

Or this

no, cheerleading isn’t all about looks

But just to get that out of the way…

You probably should have bought stock in hairspray

And you've found bobby pins in places you can't even talk about

You could curl your hair before you could even hurdler jump

you've mastered the art of the high ponytail

and You probably have an alarmingly large collection of oversized bows

Yes, the amount of makeup you wore for competitions was ... extreme

this is the least-cool pair of shoes you’ve ever owned...

...But you probably owned at least 8 pairs

you lived in Soffe shorts

...But enough about how awesome you looked.

because Cheerleaders aren't stupid, either

everyone thinks they can do what we do, but they're wrong

because Cheerleading is hardcore

there is nothing harder than repeated toe-touch jumps during conditioning

no one will ever be as flexible as a cheerleader

Or as fearless

If you were a flyer, you always had that moment where you wondered, "Are they really going to catch me?"

Flyers get the most attention, but their lives depend on their bases and backspots

Seriously, all that stunting gets dangerous, fast

The backspot: No glory, all guts

You would stunt anywhere, wearing anything

That trust means you and your teammates are closer than sisters

You know that tumbling is so much harder for cheerleaders than for gymnasts

But you definitely paid attention to the gymnasts, if just to avoid a sitch like this:

You know the importance of an impeccable sense of timing

plus, you know it's all about "clean," "sharp" movements

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You'll never forget how to spell "aggressive"

Suey Nordberg on YouTube

You've had nightmares about forgetting your bloomers

Forget football and basketball games — it was all about competitions

Your cheer face was always on point

Well, most of the time

You can smile through anything

Competition outfits = amazing

though Nothing will stop you from nailing a routine at a competition

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and at school, You secretly loved walking the high school halls with your uniform on

This may or may not have been what was playing in your head

Yes, you love Bring It On

But this is not a thing

Because that trivializes cheerleading

And cheerleading is a sport — even the American Medical Association says so

no, You don't have time for haters

Because you loved every painful, glittery, high-flying, toe-touching, crazy stunting moment of it

and nobody, and I mean nobody, should mess with a cheerleader.

Gotta love this sport.

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