Pamela McRae (Co-author of this article)
Lifestyle – Would a young athlete commit to organized sports if there was no future in it? There seems to be a certain drive that powers many exceptionally skilled youth athletes. Most often it is the hope of someday turning an advocation into a high profile, high paid professional career.
Competitive cheer is not recognized as a sport and there is no monetary reward. Cheerleaders that cheer for professional sports like football and basketball often do not get paid and on the occasion they receive compensation, it is nominal.
It was an unlikely turn of events that gave a unique insight into pre-college world of competitive cheer. An impressive gathering at a massive Beach convention hall, there were thousands of students ranging in ages from elementary to high school. Representing just a single recreation group, MCC there are 200 students. With youth glamorously adorned from make-up to hair in uniformed active wear, at competition loud pulsating music runs deeply through veins as supporters cheer teams to success.
Off-stage, it was an impromptu discussion from one cheer team member to her young cousins who aspire to someday live-out their dreams. There was first the promise of getting access to the competition by donning bows of privilege. In the sisterhood there are bonding friendships; ingredients for successful competitors and life. Wellness in body and mind is a welcome return on investment by continually amassing the rigor of being a member of a winning team. “I cry every time win or lose. I don’t know that’s just what I do” is expressive of the level of passion for being the best at their pursuit.
Cheer is great for youth because like any other sport it is very demanding (3 hour practices 3-4 times a week). Time management is essential in leveraging extra-curricular participation and academics. Team members know that if grades aren’t right, the cheerleader does not hit the floor. MCC team POWER consists of 20 athletes. All of them are in academic programs for talented and gifted; all have 3.0 or better GPAs.
While there are immediate benefits from youth competitive cheer, whether or not if there is a future in it depends on individual determination and goals. Students who cheer on a competitive level clearly love the sport and aspire to cheer in college and/or on a level 5 World Team which the percentage of Black youth on that level is low.
Few colleges use cheer as a way to recruit Black students. MCC has 2 colleges (one from Pennsylvania and one from Alabama) that follow the program and court the seniors to consider their school. Generally, cheerleaders at the college level tryout rather than are recruited.
There are more and more predominantly Black cheer organizations that are not only large in size such as MCC but are EXTREMELY GOOD! To the point of when at competition teams composed of members like MCC hit the floor, you hear opponent spectators say, “Oh no, we go against them” in unison, discouraging voice because more than likely there is no future for them in securing the coveted win!
#DefiningBlackCommunity YOU CAN DEFINE SOMETHING THAT HAS MEANING.
a hobby or minor occupation.