Photo Essay

By Patriece Davis

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Cheer leading should be considered to be more of a serious sport. I'm not talking about the little sideline cheerleaders that cheer at football and basketball games. I'm talking about the real cheerleaders. The ones that go from city to city competing against one another. Going head to head to try and determine who's the best at what they do. This should no longer be a sport that's token lightly, but as a serious sport on the rise.
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There are many different elements that go along with being a cheerleader. Strength being the most important one. And if you take into mind what cheerleaders wear compared to football players-who are considered to be some of the toughest people- cheerleaders wear nothing but a uniform minus the protective gear. There a plenty of sports that provide athletes with knee pads, shoulder pads, shin guards, or helmets, while cheerleaders have nothing but their complete trust and faith that their teamates will be there to catch them when they fall.
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Another important element is flexibility. In this sport your body is pushed to its physical limit and your coordination, balance, flexibility, and power is improved. Cheerleaders have to work hard to gain their flexibility and to keep it. Flexibility is one thing that makes a successful cheerleader. The more flexible the cheerleader the better their stunts and the better they are. The way basketball players thrive off which player can hit every shot they take. That's how much cheerleaders thrive off of flexibility.
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The best cheerleaders are the ones that can jump higher, tumble better, and yell louder. Those are the ones that stand out when someone thinks of a competitive cheerleading. Cheer leading has legends. Just like basketball has Michael Jordan and Football has Peyton Manning. There is no difference in cheer leading versus any other sport. They all have the same elements. They all compete to go to a Championship. And to win awards and fight for the chance to say that they were the best.
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a competitive cheerleaders goal is to be the best at all times. Yelling louder, jumping higher, stunting better. Cheerleaders are awarded for difficulty, creativity, technique, and sharpness. The higher the difficulty of a stunt, the sharper and more in sync the team is together as a whole with their motions, the better the score.
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There are also different levels in competitive cheer. Somewhat like sideline cheer but better. Sideline cheer only has two levels, varsity and junior varsity. Competitive cheer has up to 5 different levels. Level 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. This separates the up incoming cheerleaders from the best. The best from the betters from the greats. The team above is a level 4 junior squad. All the team members are really young but already so talented.
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Cheerleaders have to be in tip top shape. This sport takes a lot of energy. Its physically and sometimes emotionally exhausting. Physically because your body could just be worn out from all the long, hard, and late practices. And emotionally because maybe there's a stunt that you're trying to master and you just cant get it right. That could bring on a lot of emotions and stress. You have to have the endurance, the drive, the passion to want to do this. Just like with any other sport. Its a matter of how much commitment, dedication, and love you have for the sport.
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Synchronization is something judges look for during competition. Their kind of like referees, but instead of stopping the competition after a mistake they deduct the points from you total score. Its important that the entire team knows the routine. Not just a little bit but the whole thing. Teams work day and night to perfect their routines. If the routine isn't in sync its make the whole performance look sloppy and out of control. From what i know judges look for synchronization along with the difficulty of the routine and stunts.
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The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime. Bonding and becoming a family is important in any sport. Cheerleaders have some of the best bonds. They treat each other like sisters, And if there are boys on the team then everyone gets treated as if there sisters and brothers. Cheer leading is an honest game. It's true to life. It's a game about sharing and becoming one. Cheer leading is a team game. So in many ways it is life for some individuals.
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Cheerleaders receive trophies and metals just like any other "athlete". The benefits of being a cheerleader go along way. Its not always easy being a cheerleader, but the rewards are many. And their worth it. Rewards a meaningful pieces of metal that hold memories that can also go along way. They might not be worth anything to a football player or basketball player but every athlete knows what it feels like to hold a metal. Their what athletes work for to let them know that they are the best. Metals separate the good from the great. They symbolize a journey that cheerleaders can care with them for a lifetime. Cheer leading is no different than any another sport. So why should it not be considered to be amongst some of the best sports around? I don't know. But i believe its a a serious sport and people should open up to it and give it a chance. Its a really great and entertaining sport and hopefully one day everyone will see that.