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In its first season, cheerleading has added much-needed spirit to Townsend Harris athletics. While the 27-member team intends to cheer at all eight of the boys basketball home games, it could further its role in the school community by showing active support for more of the student body, namely the girls varsity basketball team.
Because this is their inaugural season and they have limited ability to attend games, the squad decided that it would be easier to coordinate with one team this season. It is understandable that a recently formed team would have difficulty going to every winter home game that THHS hosts, and it is admirable that they refuse to divide the team to go to the various games. Though we recognize that the squad is finding its footing, it is also clear that the decision to support the boys team alone raises certain issues.
The main problem that arises with limitations on cheering is that, traditionally, squads consist of girls cheering for boys, and anything that strays from that dynamic tends to raise eyebrows. This sort of “traditionalist” mentality promotes a stereotype that denies the female teams at our school the cheering they deserve. While it may not be the intention of our school’s cheer squad, the promotion of this image should be discontinued in favor of a more equal cheerleading representation at both genders’ games.
Even if the reason for supporting the boys basketball team is not because of its gender, its current setup inadvertently aids the unfair notion that girls “are second-class athletes and don’t deserve the school spirit,” as Rosie Pudish was quoted saying in a 2007 New York Times article titled “Equal Cheers for Boys and Girls Draws Some Boos.” Although the squad is fairly new, it has the potential to defy the trend of girls only cheering for boys.
Though the boys team deserves recognition for their hard work and determination, the girls team is also deserving. With two undefeated seasons in a row and playoff runs to their name, the girls team is accomplished enough to merit recognition. It might make sense if the girls team displayed little commitment or passion for their sport, but the fact that they offer both in abundance makes it undeniable that they deserve the home-court advantages that a cheering squad can provide.
In the midst of a mostly indifferent student body, cheerleading has proven to be a pleasant addition to THHS athletics. Though it may take some reorganizing of the squad’s efforts, the cheerleaders should take advantage of this opportunity to advocate for the school as a whole by supporting as many teams as possible.
The squad defied expectations even by forming; they should continue defying expectations by cheering for both boys and girls.