“Smiles on - and go!” This is the last backstage moment before a team takes to the mat in the sport of competitive cheerleading.
The evolution of cheer is similar to a comparison between hockey and figure skating. Both sports are using skates and the format of the ice rink as their “playing field.” Hockey is the ice-based game where two teams are playing “against” each other. Somewhere along the way, athletes, or coaches, or both, changed the basic idea of using skating only for transportation in a game, so that skating itself became the esteemed skill, and evolved into a performance sport for an audience.
Probably the most frequent question I am asked about cheerleading is, “Who do you cheer for?” The answer is complex. Yes, there are still cheerleading squads who are dedicated to cheering for their partner team; the Saskatchewan Roughriders football organization would be a good example of this type of cheerleading. The Saskatchewan Roughriders Cheerleaders are using their cheerleading routines to ignite positive energy for the football players, as well as “performing” for the stadium crowd and for the TV audience.
All-star cheerleading is the performance sport. All-star cheerleading refers to preparing cheerleading routines for performance in competition. There is no direct link to another sport. All-star teams might be asked to perform at sporting events, but this would be like a half-time show with no affiliation, only to perform for the crowd.
Dedicated cheerleading competitions are where cheerleading teams compete to perform their routines for marks from a panel of judges. This would be similar to competitive figure skating. There is a panel of judges assigning points for execution, technical skills, creativity, etc. But, the competition arena is also filled with an audience so the cheer teams are performing to them, too.