Competitive cheerleading: We got it wrong
By Eleisha Foon
Yesterday, Newshub ran a story about the sport of competitive cheerleading taking a step closer to becoming an Olympic sport.
To illustrate that story we ran an image of the Dallas Cowboys' cheerleading squad, thinking that all cheerleaders were more or less equivalent.
How wrong we were.
Newshub's feedback inbox has been flooded with emails from angry cheerleaders around New Zealand.
So we've decided to remedy the situation by clarifying - both to ourselves and our readers - what competitive cheerleading really is.
Pacific Cheerleaders Director Martien van Kuijk was one of those who emailed us about our mistake (and among politest of those of corresponded).
(Pacific Cheerleaders Limited)
"Although the Dallas Cowboys girls are cheerleaders, they are not nor will they ever be, competitive," he wrote.
So we gave him a friendly call to find out exactly what is involved in competitive cheerleading. He told us that:
Mr Van Kujik said he was frustrated with the misconceptions the surround the sport.
"Sideline cheerleading is there to rev up football audiences and entertain the crowds," he said.
"[These misconceptions] make it difficult for kids to join up because it’s labelled as American Football cheering", he said.
Mr Van Kuijk said there was much more to competitive cheerleading than pom-pom entertainment.
"Competitive cheerleading takes discipline, skill and intense training," he said.
Mr Van Kuijk said he was thrilled IOC recognised competitive cheerleading as a valid sport.
After receiving provisional recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the sport will receive $US25,000 ($NZ35,615) in annual funding.
Although it may take up to eight years to actually happen, Mr Van Kujick is confident that New Zealand cheer teams will eventually have the chance to claim a gold medal at the most prestigious of sporting events.
So we at Newshub would like to offer our humble apologies for tripping over our own feet. Next time we write about competitive cheerleading, we promise to land our dismount perfectly.
Not competitive cheerleaders/ Getty Images