Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cheerleading - Sao Paulo

As I waited for my kids to buy a 'besteirinha' from the tuck shop (snack store in British), I noticed this sign on the wall. And inwardly groaned. At the risk of alienating some of my best friends who were high school cheerleaders, I have to say I am totally opposed to this sport making its way into my kids' Brazilian IB school. It is not that I don't believe cheerleading to be a tough workout-- it clearly is. But I am still opposed.

The premise of cheerleading is of course pepping up the fans at a game. Overwhelmingly boys and mens sports. I have never seen cheerleaders at a women's college sports game but then I went to a division 3 school of all women. Maybe the UConn women's basketball team has them. I am not talking about professional sports but rather sports during the formative years of a young girl's life.

Brazilian girls do not participate in sports at anywhere the level of US girls. I will check on exact numbers but in my personal experience (in my eyes, remember), here is what I see at my sons' sports trainings:

-soccer at the club. One girl out of 13 kids in Monday/Wednesday afternoon class. Two girls on my son's intraclub team.
-judo after school. No girls. 15 boys
-ballet. 9 girls, one boy. Yes that one is mine
-gymnastics at club. 10 girls, one boy. Also mine.
-Capoeira. Varies but a ratio of 4 to 1, I would say. In the class of kids age 13-17, girls outnumber boys 2 to 1. I don't know why, but I like it.
-academy soccer. 12 boys, 1 girl
-swimming. Even odds.

Personally I would rather see girls in competitive sports. Or martial arts. I am not talking about the cheerleading competitions you see in the US. And I am talking everywhere in the world, not just Brazil. I did competitive sports--soccer at the beginning, cross-country and track and then rowing in college.

I don't have enough time this morning (it's International Day and I'm Team USA) to research the roots of cheerleading and participation but I'm going to. I am sorry cheerleading made it here.

For an interesting article on the link between successful women and competitive sport, see here.

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