School is back in season! Seasons are changing, work is amounting, and we all need to take a few minutes to get pumped up about, well, life. I thought this would be an appropriate time to write about the least expected topic possible: an ode to cheerleading.
The ancient art of cheerleading has culminated into a modern symbol of all things Americana. It is like patriotism, in that it evokes a strong sense of pride and support. This is for the iconoclast who thinks cheerleading is just Soffe shorts and back flips.
Cheerleading is a classic model for gender equality (and maybe even female domination). Did you know cheerleading started out for men only? It began in the late 1800’s and excluded female participants. It is no coincidence that women were incorporated into cheerleading only a few years after the 19th amendment was passed. Ladies, if we can parallel our efforts in usurping other fields like we did this sport, we could take over the world!
Cheerleaders pass down spirit sticks like Chinese oracle bones. They symbolize the essence of cheer: camaraderie, helpfulness, and enthusiasm. In 1954, the National Cheerleaders Association wanted to recognize a team for its attitude, rather than technical abilities. A twig was torn off a tree, and voila, given as a representation of goodwill, reminiscent of an Olive branch in ancient Grecian customs.
Poetry is often defined as saying the most with the least amount of words. It is also described as “literature in metrical form.” Cheers exemplify this to a T. When cheerleaders need to say “Hey all of you people in the crowd, pay attention, and help us support what is happening on the field! And you out there on the field, get moving so we can win this game!” they must harness their poetic aptitude to say these things fast, and with a beat. Cheers are really the most evolved and efficient form of poetry as they pack excitement quite well.
Like Captain Morgan the alcohol pirate, there is a little cheerleader in all of us. You don’t need a skirt or a ponytail. Remember this next time you toast your drink, pat someone on the back, or yell at a game on your television.