Cheerleading: Peppy Fans or True Athletes?


            My interest in the world of cheerleading began when I was in eighth grade.  I thought cheerleading would be just a fun extracurricular activity that would not be too demanding, but little did I know cheerleading would soon become my life.  I have cheered competitively and for my high school cheer team for four years, and I am planning to continue to cheer as I enter college.  Because of my strong investment in cheer, I have decided to conduct research on the safety of cheerleading as well as the athleticism it requires and why it should be considered a sport.

Cheerleading’s rising popularity has led to new research on the safety of today’s cheer stunts and skills. As a cheerleader, I have witnessed many of the injuries and dangers associated with the required elements of a modern cheer squad. Common injuries include fractured wrists, ankles, and even necks. I have been dropped from stunts multiple times, causing a sprained ankle and lots of bruising.  It is necessary for cheerleaders today to be all around athletic so they will be able to perform the necessary tumbling, dance, and stunting skills. Cheerleaders today are no longer just chanting on the sideline, they are being thrown 20 feet into the air and doing complex acrobatic skills. Many today are still doubtful whether they consider cheerleading to be a true sport even with its high physical demands.

The bibliography that follows includes three articles discussing the dangers and athleticism of cheerleading.  The first two articles “Cheerleading gets Tough” and “As Cheerleaders Soar Higher so does the Danger” focus mainly on injuries and the changes cheerleading has undergone recently, while the last article “Is Cheerleading a Sport” focuses mainly on cheerleading being an official sport.  I plan to continue my research on this topic so people may better understand the changes that cheerleading has undergone in the past decade as well as why it should be considered a sport.

Annotated Bibliography

Campo-Flores, Arian. “Cheerleading Gets Tough.” Newsweek 137.21 (2001): 50. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Apr. 2016.

Arian Campo-Flores newspaper article “Cheerleading Gets Tough” focuses on the dangers and athleticism of all-star cheerleading. The article focuses on 17 year-old cheerleader  Erykah Ward who, along with 400 others, tried out for one of the nation’s largest all-star cheerleading gyms, Cheer Athletics. Ward quickly realized that “competitive cheering is no joke.”  The article goes on to mention about how demanding the sport of cheerleading has become over time, and the amount of pressure placed on all-star cheerleaders is extremely high. The article also notes how the sport is now attracting more male cheerleaders than ever, many of whom are athletes such as football players. One male cheerleader remarks, “if you think cheerleading is for sissies, see if you can handle it.” The article ends by reiterating the intensity of all-star cheerleading and how all teams strive for perfection with one goal in mind, winning.

Pennington, Bill. “As Cheerleaders Soar Higher, So Does the Danger.” The New York Times 31 Mar. 2007: Web. 8 Apr. 2016.

Bill Pennington’s New York Times article focuses on the rising danger in the sport of cheerleading. The article gives statistics on the increasing number of cheerleading related injuries, stating that “emergency room visits for cheerleading injuries nationwide have more than doubled since the early 1990’s.” The article gives specific examples of cheerleaders who have suffered multiple, possibly deadly injuries such as a broken neck. The article continues to mention how much cheerleading has changed from the past.  Cheerleaders used to be only on the sidelines yelling chants, now they are being thrown into the air to perform complex tricks.

Many cheerleading organizations counter that “cheerleading is not dangerous for an overwhelming majority” and that “cheerleading is working hard to become safer.” Nevertheless, the article states that there is a disproportional number of injuries when compared to the number of participants. The main reason given for this ratio is “inadequate training of coaches.”

Bonesteel, Matt. “Is Cheerleading a Sport? The American Medical Association Thinks So.” The Washington Post. 10 June 2014. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.

Bonsteel’s article from The Washington Post focuses on the debate on whether cheerleading should be considered an official sport. The American Medical Association argues that cheerleading should be considered an official sport “because of its rigors and risks.” Cheerleading is just as rigorous as many other traditional sports, and is the leading cause of catastrophic injuries at the high school and college level.  The article also mentions how the AMA hopes to better regulate cheer safety by making sure flipping and stunts are performed on appropriate surfaces.

The article ends by telling how governing bodies are trying to propose to the NCAA that cheerleading should be classified as an “emerging sport for young women.” Cheerleading organizations such as USA Cheerleading advocated for stunts and tumbling to be added to the NCAA’s definition of cheerleading, and are trying to make a proposal for cheerleading to become an official sport in the future.


Paul Muldoon’s Hedgehog

Paul Muldoon’s poem Hedgehog is a short poem about the secrecy and timidness of a hedgehog.  The poem begins by giving an analogy of a snail and how it “shares its secret.” Then it goes on to describe the hedgehog and how it “shares its secret with no one.”  He describes the hedgehog as being very timid and only keeping to itself.  The poem ends by mentioning how God will never again trust in the world.

When I first saw the title Hedgehog, I was not sure what the poem would be about.  I did not think it would be about how distrustful the hedgehog is and how it hides from certain people.  The poem flowed very well, and made me think about the different ways animals act and how we perceive their actions.

Encouragement from Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott’s excerpt Shitty First Drafts from her book Bird by Bird tells how even an experienced writer like herself still has troubles writing a great first draft.  Lamott goes into detail about her writing process, and how she has to sit down and write whatever comes to her mind, good or bad. She goes on to explain her struggles of writing food reviews for California magazine. Lamott says, “I’m not going to be able to get the magic to work this time. I’m ruined. I’m toast.” This shows how even an experienced writer still can panic over writing something important. Lamott ends this excerpt by reminding the readers just to get something down on paper, because the first draft is just the “down draft.”

I found Lamott’s writing to be witty and encouraging. Knowing that an amazing writer like Lamott still struggles in her writing and has had moments of writing panic was encouraging to me.  Anne Lamott really placed herself in conversation with the reader, and I felt engaged throughout my reading. I like how Lamott used analogies in the ending paragraph, saying how the first draft is the “down draft,” the second draft is the “up draft,” and the third draft is the “dental draft” where you check to make sure everything is perfect.  Lamott’s writing is informative yet casual, which helps the reader engaged in conversation.

Garrison Keillor on Trump

Garrison Keillor’s article from the Washington Post gives an honest opinion about Americans who want to flee if and when Donald Trump becomes president. The article focuses on the point that fleeing abroad will not solve any of the problems that Americans are wishing to escape if Trump is elected. Keillor gives evidence of this by recounting when he lived in Copenhagen, and how the Americans who fled from being sent to Vietnam years before did not truly conform fully to the Danish lifestyle. Keillor states that “it’s like you’re wearing a big red A around your neck.” Keillor says to truly escape Trump, one should move to New York, since it has already seen through Trump’s antics.

One thing that makes Keillor’s writing so interesting is his use of satire and conversation throughout.  Keillor uses satire throughout the entire article, calling Trump the “Great White Snapping Turtle” due to his aggressive and unruly behavior.  Keillor uses an informal tone to set the mood of a conversation, which helped to keep me engaged with the point he was trying to get across.

Rooming with a stranger: A necessary evil?


Are roommates essential to “the college experience?”

In Anna Altman’s New York Time’s blog post “A College Education Should Include Rooming with a Stanger,” she writes about different reporters’ and researchers’ opinions on college roommate options in the digital era.  The main focus in the blog post is whether or not roommates should be selected randomly or through different applications that use computer algorithms to match people based on certain lifestyle and personality traits. Many of the reporters voice how using the internet to find a roommate can “limit a freshman’s experience” (qtd. in Altman). One reporter notes that random roommates give college students the experience to cross social barriers and give them training in working with diversity. However, random selection has its drawbacks as well; studies show how being with the wrong roommate can have a negative effect on the college experience. Studies show roommates can effect binge drinking, study habits, and mood disorders (Altman).

In my view, I both agree and disagree with the opinions of the reporters in this post.  Although I am not yet living on a college campus, I feel as though I can relate to what living with a stranger will be like in the next year.  I agree with many of the statements given that roommates will affect your college experience and can influence your actions and emotions.  While living with someone in close quarters, it is easy for their lifestyle choices and attitude to be transferred. Living with a roommate is a large transition and can be difficult for college students, yet it is a necessity.  I agree with the statement that “leaving for college-and facing homesickness-makes roommates all the more important” (qtd. in Altman).  Having someone to talk to and even just to be present at times will help make the transition into college life much easier for freshman students.  Roommates also open the doors to branch out and make new social groups in college.

I also disagree with some of the opinions given in Altman’s blog post. Many of the researchers in the post tell how rooming with a stranger is beneficial because it allows students to be removed from their comfort zone. One reporter mentions that rooming with someone of a different race or socioeconomic class will benefit students by making them more comfortable interacting with different types of people (Altman).  Although this could be true, finding a roommate online does not completely eliminate this scenario. When using an online application such as Facebook to find a roommate; race, social class, and religion are not factors that I would take into consideration.  I believe most students are looking mostly at common personality traits and lifestyles.  One could find a roommate online of a different race or social class that still had similar interests and lifestyle preferences.

Living with a roommate who is too dissimilar can add stress to the college experience.  Reporter Evan Selinger says “It’s easy to see why students need a safe place where they can let down their hair and recharge” (qtd. in Altman) and I agree.  Because roommates have so much influence, they can easily effect emotions in either a positive or negative way.  If a student is unhappy with their roommate, it can cause stress that will affect their academics and social life.  This is also a hassle for the college administration since they will be forced to move students around within a dorm, or, in the worst case, have the students transfer schools.

When leaving home and going to a university next year, I believe that I will use technology to help find a compatible roommate.  Using the new technology of today is beneficial and can hopefully enhance my college experience.  Although using the new technology for finding roommates cannot guarantee a perfect match, it can help find someone with similar interests and who has similar tastes. Many college students that I know have used Facebook applications to find their roommates and they are happy that they did. Using the applications still allow for college students to get experience with diversity because most applications do not deal with certain factors such as race, religion, and social class.  We should embrace the new technology and use it to our advantage in enhancing our education.

Roommates are an essential part of the college experience and should not be eliminated. I believe the new technology provides a way to make sure students are happy and can live with someone who has a similar schedule and similar lifestyle choices.  Eliminating roommates all together will make the transition to college much harder for many students.

Works Cited

Altman, Anna. “A College Education Should Include Rooming With a Stranger.” The New York Times, 7 Sept. 2014. Web. 08 Feb. 2016.

Declining by degrees: An accurate representation?

In the film Declining by Degrees, the many different problems of the american higher education system are addressed.  The film looks at a wide variety of universities, ranging from a large public institution, the University of Arizona, to a small community college, the Community College of Denver. The first section of the film deals with the problems surrounding students and teachers declining interest in education and how many students are just barely making it through college.  The second portion of the film deals with the financial aspect of education and how tuition is on the rise, making higher education impossible for some individuals. It also mentions the commercialization of college sports teams.

During the film I asked myself, “Is this an accurate representation of college life?” And I believe in some ways it is.  The problems with binge drinking and the commercialization of higher education are still large problems universities face today. Many universities give out much higher scholarships to their sports players than for academic achievement. Not having the means to pay for college is also still a real problem for many students.  Many students must juggle having a full time job with being a full time student in order to pay for their education. Yet, the students represented in the film are not representative of all higher education students. Many students are working hard in college and getting a great education that will allow them to get a well-paying job. Most students I know cannot just “tread water” and get by in college, they need to work hard to get passing grades and stay in school.  Even with this, I believe many of the problems addressed in the film have not yet been fixed on college campuses today, and they need to be addressed for the future of education.


Snow Day

In Billy Collin’s poem, Snow Day, the excitement and beauty of nature and the calmness of snow are described.

The poem begins by mentioning the setting of a town being covered in snow, and describing the calmness and stillness of the landscape.  The speaker goes on to tell the things he will do in the snow, such as walk his dog and admire the snow, but says “for now I am a willing prisoner in this house.” (16) The poem concludes by giving a list of schools closed down in the town, and showing the excitement of the children as they play in the snow.

I believe that Collin’s named the school’s with names such as “Kiddie Corner School” and “Hi-Ho Nursery” to represent the innocence of youth and the excitement snow brings to young children.  Collins continues to mention the children playing and the young girls gossiping, saying the girls are plotting a riot.  I believe Collin’s uses these words to show the energy and seriousness of the young girls conversation.