There are six men and five women on the Sacramento State cheerleading team, and apparently this ratio is not unusual — at the collegiate level, 50 percent of cheerleaders are now male, although cheerleaders of both sexes are still fighting the misconception that their sport is all about waving pom-poms.
“We put our bodies through awkward positions with tumbling and flipping and tossing a human being while they flip and land on one hand six feet in the air,” says Sacramento State cheerleader Sean Henderson. “We have a person’s life in our hands and one false movement can cause serious injury.”
While cheerleading was originally an all-male activity, women joined at the turn of the 20th century, eager to experience one of the only sports open to female athletes. By World War II cheerleading was dominated by women, and, like most female-centric activities, largely dismissed as ditzy and superficial.
Gender equality is always a good thing, but it will be interesting to see how the media coverage of male cheerleaders plays out. Will athletes of both sexes finally get the credit they deserve? Or will the inclusion of men automatically legitimize a difficult sport that women have been excelling at for decades? Time will tell. [The State Hornet]