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Cheerleader
Cheerleader

Cheerleading is a sport that uses organized routines that range from 1 minute to 3 minutes made from elements of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers, and stunting to direct spectators of events to cheer on sports teams at games and matches and/or compete at cheerleading competitions. Cheerleaders draw attention to the event and encourage audience participation. The athlete involved is called a cheerleader. The National Cheerleading Association is the sanctioning body for cheerleading in the USA. Cheerleading has not yet been recognised as a sport in the UK, thus does not have an official body.

Cheerleading originates in the United States, and remains a predominantly American activity, with an estimated 1.5 million participants in all-star cheerleading. The growing presentation of the sport to a global audience has been led by the 1997 start of broadcasts of cheerleading competition by ESPN International and the worldwide release of the 2000 film Bring it On. Due in part to this recent exposure, there are now an estimated 100,000 participants scattered around the rest of the world in countries including Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Most American middle schools, high schools, and colleges have organized cheerleading squads made up solely of students. Several colleges that compete at cheerleading competitions offer cheerleading scholarships. Some military academies use their drill team or Color guard team instead of a cheersquad at athletic events, but others have traditional cheerleading squads. Normally, the main reason for school-sponsored cheerleading is to promote school spirit and motivate the players and fans. A cheerleading team may compete outside of sporting events (local, regional, and national competitions), but their main task is to cheer for sporting events and encourage audience participation. Cheerleading is quickly becoming a year-round sport, starting with tryouts during the spring of the preceding school year, organized camp as a team, practices, attendance at various sporting events and ending with National competition season, typically from winter through spring.

The tryout process sometimes takes place over several days. The cheerleading coach usually arranges for a cheerleading clinic, during which basic materials are taught or reviewed before the final day of tryouts. This gives returning cheerleaders and new cheerleaders an equal chance of becoming familiar with the material. Skills that coaches look for include jumps, tumbling, motions, and dance ability. Tryouts are usually in the spring, so that the coach has the team chosen in time to attend summer camp as a team.

The revamped and provocative Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders of the 1970s—and the many imitators that followed—firmly established the cheerleader as an American icon of wholesome sex appeal. In response, a new subgenre of exploitation films suddenly sprang up with titles such as The Cheerleaders (1972), The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974), Revenge of the Cheerleaders (1975), The Pom Pom Girls (1976), Satan's Cheerleaders (1977), and Cheerleaders's Wild Weekend (1979). In addition to R-rated sex comedies and horror films, cheerleaders became a staple of the adult film industry, starting with Debbie Does Dallas (1978) and its four sequels.

Because cheerleaders started out as merely a tool for crowd arousal and are used by professional sports teams as institutionalized "eye candy", the stereotype sticks that cheerleaders are no more than skinny girls in short skirts, standing on the sideline, shouting phrases like "Go Team, Go!" Another common stereotype surrounding cheerleaders is that they are popular, attractive, and often quite rude. This stereotype is enforced by television shows, movies, and other media that portray cheerleaders as ditzy blondes, typically popular, and rude to others. With the addition of adult coaching added to school squads, the image that cheerleading is just a popularity contest is beginning to fade. With the addition of All-Star Cheerleading, cheerleaders are ready to drop old stereotypes, and take on the title of athletes. Many schools look for children who also have the skills that come from participating on All-Star teams. There has been debate on whether or not cheerleading truly is a sport. Supporters consider cheerleading, as a whole, a sport, citing the heavy use of athletic talents while critics do not see it as deserving of that status since sport implies a competition among squads and not all squads compete along with subjectivity of competitions. One common argument is that cheerleading, while difficult and requiring of athletic skill, should not be considered a sport any more than dancing. All-Star brings a whole new set of rules to the table, incorporating a high level of gymnastics and stunting, and very competitive routines. During the 2008 Cheerleading Worlds, the USASF launched it's "Be an All-Star" campaign and public service announcement, promoting the positive qualities of All-Star cheerleading and the concept of cheerleading as a sport.

Cheerleaders, when not in uniform, usually wear either cheerleading hoodies or dress like the popular kids. They spend most of their time listening to cheer songs, obviously, and may do so in their spare time. (think ParaPara dancers)

Image from photobucket, info -save for the last paragraph, which is mine- from wikipedia.


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