The only downside to cheerleading (other than maybe those days you are too sore and tired to move but do it anyway) is the negative stereotypes people have of our sport. Forty-one percent of cheerleaders say their family and friends are very supportive, but that means there are still a lot of misconceptions about cheerleading out there! Here are the four biggest misconceptions about cheerleading:

1. Cheerleaders aren’t athletes. That was hard to write! Somehow, this misconception exists, no matter how many things like this we show:

Maybe the confusion comes from the whole cheerleading as a sport debate. But here’s the thing: Cheerleading may not be considered a sport everywhere, but cheerleaders are athletes. Cheerleading requires strength, stamina, and serious skills! 

2. Cheerleaders are stuck up. Cheerleaders may often be portrayed as popular snobs in the movies, but that’s just not true in real life. It’s hard to even understand where this myth came from since cheerleaders’ main purpose is to raise spirit and support teams. Even squads that are strictly competitive and don’t cheer for sports teams are known for doing volunteer work and supporting charitable causes. Plus, there’s a sense of family in the cheer community. We may be fierce competitors during those two minutes and 30 seconds, but we are friends off the mat and support and respect each other!

3. Cheerleaders aren’t smart. This misconception is baffling as well. Maybe people (mistakenly) assume that you can’t be interested in clothes and makeup and still be smart. That’s completely incorrect, first of all, but not all cheerleaders even care about that stuff, and some squads aren’t allowed to wear makeup or put their hair in anything but a simple ponytail anyway. We know cheerleaders who love getting all done up for competitions and other cheer events, and we know some cheerleaders who just see that part of cheerleading as something they have to get through so they can get to their favorite part. Either way, we assure you that not only are cheerleaders smart, but you really have to be smart to be a cheerleader! It takes focus and concentration to throw those stunts and tumbling passes, not to mention the huge mental capacity to learn them in the first place.

4. Cheerleaders don’t work hard. This is at least one major misconception that we can kind of understand. Kind of. Cheerleaders make incredibly difficult things look easy. This is because they practice so hard that it becomes second nature. So never assume that it looks easy to them because it is. It only looks easy because they worked so hard at it! Outsiders don’t see the hours, the injuries, the sweat, and the heart that goes into the finished product!

What other common misconceptions about cheerleading have you encountered? 

(GIFs via