All over the world, cheerleading is evolving. From England to the United States to Australia, teams have witnessed a significant increase in male cheerleaders over the past few years–which is great news for stunting! Male members on a cheer team not only push stunts to a new level by making them seem stronger and more dynamic, but also aid in breaking down gender barriers since both boys and girls are working together towards a common goal. So how do we get more men involved? Here’s a list of four thoughtful approaches for cheer coaches:
- Stop the stereotype. Cheerleading is traditionally viewed as a side note to contact sports–but what people don’t realize is that cheerleading is a contact sport! Modern-day cheer is high velocity and fully-loaded: tumbling, stunting, and flying requires cheerleaders to remain physically fit throughout the entire season. If boys understand the athleticism needed to cheer, they might be more intrigued to join. Also, women weren’t allowed to be cheerleaders until the late 1920s, meaning that it was a boys’ activity for nearly 40 years! Although women have taken over the industry since, it’s helpful to remind potential male cheerleaders that the sport wouldn’t even exist without them.
- Emphasize that cheer can coincide with other school sports. A lot of news articles have surfaced within the past year that talk about how much male cheerleaders appreciate the ability to take part in cheer as well as another school team– such as wrestling or football. In this way, they can feel more secure if their peers claim that cheerleading is a ‘feminine’ sport. Say, for example, a basketball player wants to get into cheer: allow him to participate only during the fall semester to ensure that cheerleading wouldn’t conflict with his other passions.
- Remind them of scholarships. Colleges–especially the more competitive ones–offer scholarships to male high school cheerleaders to tempt them onto their teams. Since the numbers of male cheerleaders are so low, it’s easier to snag one of those to help cover tuition than it is to get a basketball or football scholarship.
- Scout early. It’s becoming more of a trend for high school cheer coaches to scout at their surrounding junior highs for incoming freshmen talent. An easy way to do this would be to get in touch with the junior high coaches, athletic directors, and gym teachers. Don’t forget about the drama department! Theater teachers would not only know which boys are athletic enough to participate in cheer, but also the ones that would shimmer in the sideline spotlight!
Does your team have enough male cheerleaders? Let us know what you think about co-ed cheerleading and what other ways you've motivated boys to join.