Historically, cheerleading has been a female-dominated sport, an image which has only been perpetuated in its portrayal in television, movies and via social media. As a result, the male population has turned their attention elsewhere. There are no boys on the Redwood cheerleading team.
Captain of the varsity cheerleading team, senior Evie Kiefuss, described the team’s advertisement as gender neutral due to the stigmatization that’s always followed the sport.
“I don’t think it’s a sport where boys are encouraged to try out, because for so long it’s been thought of as only girls can do it, and thought as more feminine. With competitive cheerleading especially, it’s become more coed at higher levels because they’re so strong and there’s more power coming from guys,” Kiefuss said.
The stigma that has followed cheerleading has caused senior Aidan Rankin-Williams, both a parkour and gymnastics instructor, to steer away from the sport.
“Cheerleading has the reputation of being a female-dominated sport and because of that stereotype, guys are less inclined to go towards it. However, if it was advertised in a way that was more encouraging to males I think they’d be more likely to join,” Rankin-Williams said.
“If I was considering doing cheerleading, and I knew that even four guys were doing it, I’d feel like it wasn’t as female dominated and [would] definitely join,” Rankin-Williams said.
Junior Max Dostal decided to join the team last year, while even though he was the only male member on the team, he still had a very positive experience. Unfortunately, Dostal had to quit the team due to a new job and a lack of extra time.
“Everyone on the team was really nice, and I loved being a part of it. They were very inclusive, and the team mentality was my favorite part,” Dostal said.
Kiefuss believes that if more guys joined the team, the team would be able to perform more dynamic, advanced tricks.
“Physiologically guys can be stronger, but it depends on the guy’s confidence, because if they’re shy and don’t want to do the cheers or dances it won’t be as successful. However, guys generally will add more strength to the team and allow for more advanced stunts,” Kiefuss said.
Dostal also emphasized that his strength made it easier to complete stunts.
If there was more outreach and advertising that invited every person to join the cheerleading team, regardless of gender, it could shift the balance and potentially create a more gender-balanced team.