We’ve talked a lot about how much cheerleading has changed since its early days of all-male spirit teams, but perhaps one of the biggest changes that has occurred over the years is the celebrity status some cheerleaders have reached. While plenty of famous people are former cheerleaders, these cheerleaders are famous solely for being cheerleaders—really good ones.

There is some controversy surrounding this trend of rising cheerleading stars though. For one thing, fans and followers of these cheerleaders commend them on their appearance and “perf” looks outside of cheerleading. To some, this focus on the glitz and glam gives cheerleading a bad name. In fact, many of the cheer stars score endorsement deals and promote specific brands of cheer bows and other accessories to their followers. A few even have their own clothing lines.

On the other hand, some see this as a great opportunity for those relatively few lucky cheerleaders and a way to draw more attention to cheerleading. Plus, many of these cheerleading celebrities are good role models who inspire and motivate their fans. And, while the cheerleaders may draw a lot of attention for their fashion, hair, and makeup choices, they become famous in the first place for being great athletes who excel at their sport.

Maddie Gardner, the first of these cheer celebrities, gained fame for debuting the ball up 360 tick-tock and winning Worlds (twice) with her team, Cheer Extreme. Maddie then became a spokesmodel for cheerleading apparel company Chassé. She has been on the cover of many cheerleading magazines, hosted a web series, and is currently a cheerleader at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

However, while some of these young stars are exemplary role models, others may not exactly be a parent’s first choice as role models as their social media accounts are filled with more beach and party pictures than wholesome cheerleading inspiration. 

What do you think? Is this trend of cheerleaders gaining celeb status online helping cheerleading by getting it into the spotlight and creating more opportunities for some cheerleaders or hurting cheerleading by making it more about the glitz, glam, and fame than about the actual sport?