Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Dangerous Ride

Spirit fingers, pom-poms, and robotic chanting--you're thinking ditzy cheerleader, right? It's true, the word "cheerleader" conjures all sorts of images, often acutely airheady ones. But if you look past the stereotypes, you'll find a sport that can be thrilling, challenging and, dare I say, more dangerous than one might think.

As a flyer in college, it was certainly a dangerous ride for me. I remember standing in front of my base partner (often a muscular and athletic male). He'd put his hands on my hips and then with one energized jump on my part, he'd thrust me in the air and hold me with one hand while I stood on one foot in a flamingo pose. (Even I'll admit, sometimes the cheerleading stances are a little different.) But seriously. Is there anything safe about standing on one foot, 12 feet in the air, atop the palm of a hand--a singular hand?

Or what about when a handful of humans would fling me in the air in what cheerleaders call a "basket toss," but what I think would be more accurately termed as a possibly fatal canon blast, leaving the chance of me being uncaught--stunned and slapped against the gym floor. (That never actually happened, but it could have, and you've maybe gawked at a similar scenario...)

For me, there were other dangers aka wardrobe malfunctions. Like the time at practice when I was dropping full speed from a "canon blast," falling into the arms of my trusted catchers, when I was caught funny. My body was twisted and tangled in the mess of arms cradling me, and somehow my shirt caught and was stuck over my head, exposing my belly button and sports bra--an embarrassing several seconds as I tried to free myself from the puzzle and get my shirt down.

Definitely, there are things I don't love about cheerleading, but when I think back to some of the dangerous things I've done, flying in stunts comes to mind. With gymnastics, which is more dangerous than cheerleading in most ways, I only had to depend on myself and my judgment of my own capabilities, but so often in cheerleading I was depending on others, and that's, well, a dangerous ride.


  1. i didn't know you were a cheerleader in college. that is exciting, and dangerous. i played basketball in highschool and college, but i had a few close friends that were cheerleaders, and i have a lot of respect. i think they need to change the name "cheerleader", it just doesn't describe the sport well enough!

  2. I didn't know you cheered in college, either! That was great to read--I could picture what you were talking about, which made me smile and made it interesting!




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