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February 15, 2010 - Michael Palmer
As cheerleading gains in popularity, the controversy rages on about whether it's a sport or not. There are rarely any questions about the athleticism of cheerleaders.
It is a year round activity for these girls as they attend summer camps, gymnastics and rehearse routines all twelve months of the year.
The skills involved in Cheerleading leave no doubt that cheerleaders are exceptional athletes. To perform their activities, they must be at least as strong as a basketball player, as poised as a dancer and as flexible as gymnasts. They are athletes by every definition of the word.
So, does it really matter how cheerleading is defined; is it important to be considered an athlete?
Most of the cheerleaders and coaches I talked to at the OVAC cheering competition said yes to that question. One coach even asked why a cheerleader has never been picked for athlete of the week. My best answer was that cheering is a total team sport where no one individual stands out as having a performance that is superior to their teammates.
I admit that I do not have all of the facts when it comes to cheerleading. It is a tough assignment to cover and shoot photos at the event. The teams are cramming a routine into three minutes and the action is fast. It is far more challenging to shoot than the basketball games.
Oh yeah, hats off to the OVAC officials who split their time between the girls championships at OUE and the cheering competition in Wheeling. I talked with many of them during the break between divisions and the conference is very lucky to have these dedicated and intelligent people in their ranks.
The judges also have a tough job, because so many of the squads put on great routines this year. In my opinion the girls are raising the bar every season. The criteria by which they are judged I do not know, but with no real idea of what that is; a spectator can still tell when a squad is working in sync and which is a good routine.
The fans can be just as interesting. They cheer for teams awaiting their turn on the floor and occasionally voice their disapproval for placing of their favorite squad. While awaiting the decision for big school competition, one male fan took to his feet and boogied to the beat, entertaining the cheerleaders and fans alike.
It is a colorful spectacle and these ladies know how to celebrate a victory. This includes coaches and I think maybe the choreographers that jumped, hugged, yelled and shed tears right along with their teams.
I made a few errors in the report but nothing major as to who won this year. I worked with Stan Pawloski on the layout and I think we did a pretty good job of squeezing all the photos and copy onto the page. Once again, thanks to all the coaches for their help in identifying the cheerleaders for the photo page.
Thanks to the coaches and directors for their calling me back for interviews and taking time after their victories to give me a quote.
Congratulations, once again, to all the participants on a job well done.
PS: A note to the Bellaire cheerleaders - Don't forget to write down the name of that shampoo that grows all that hair overnight. Even if it grows out all curly like yours did, I will not mind.
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