Over the last seven weeks I have been co-writing about soft skills in cheerleading with Caitlyn Nelson of The Cheer Forge/Cheer Factory. During those conversations Caitlyn referenced an article published in the May 7, 2018, edition of CEO Magazine, titled “A look at the link between playing sports and success in business.” The article is not specific to cheerleading, but Caitlyn and I agreed that we see the soft skills of cheer evolving into leadership skills.
I am compelled to shout out the statistic of 94 per cent of female executives were involved in competitive sport!
In the section of the article sub-titled, “Girl Power,” the CEO magazine article quotes another study specifically analyzing the life trajectories of female executives. The 2015 study found that 94 per cent of female executives had been involved in sports in grade school and in college. Females in lower level management had lower levels of engagement in sport, only 39 per cent had participated.
Cheerleading teaches that physical strength and mental toughness is valued in a sport that is dominated by females. In cheer, a tough, aggressive, competitive attitude is a positive attribute. Team sports where these attributes are practised weekly for years will influence character. It shapes people to be willing to work hard as and to seek opportunities to take on responsibility which leads to promotions in the workplace.
In the sport of cheerleading, coaching credentials start with “Coach in Training” status which is akin to an apprenticeship track. Athletes can start to accumulate their CIT hours as young as 12 years. Leadership is fostered in each and every cheerleading gym because these young female athletes will be the coaches of the future.
A counter-phenomenon is that girls drop out of sport twice as much as boys during high school years. How can we encourage girls to continue engagement in sports throughout high school and post-secondary years?
Caitlyn’s response is “Programs that recognize what motivates females might be different than sport programs catering to males. The explosion of cheerleading gyms across Canada in the past decade seems to be a good response to cater to those female athletes. Girls are typically more motivated by affirmations, social networking, affiliation, self-improvement, and a sense of belonging. Hence the popularity of cheerleading. Go girls!”