It's a debate that's been going on since the beginning of time: Which sport has the toughest players?
Some will argue soccer. They sprint for 90 straight minutes. So bad ass.
Some will argue basketball. He went up to block the shot and came down on his head, on the hard, unforgiving court. So tough.
Some will argue baseball. They can chew tobacco and swing a bat at the same time. So skilled.
But we all know it really comes down to two sports: football and cheerleading. Don't even think about telling me cheering isn't a sport. I've already fought that battle. And won.
In today's post, we will analyze the components of the two sports and declare once and for all which sport has the toughest players. I'll give you a hint: It's cheerleading.
You may be wondering how I am even qualified to argue this debate, so allow me to share my credentials.
First of all, I LOVE football. With a passion. If we were debating which sport was the greatest of all time, football would wind. Hands down.
Yes, loving something does make you an expert.
Second of all, I UNDERSTAND football. I'm not one of the girls whose like, "yay, team. wait, which team am I cheering for? i hope it's the one with the pretty helmets." Thanks to my stepdad, I was one of very few eight-year-old girls who knew what a first down was, could yell "face mask," "pass interference" and "off-sides" at the TV and know exactly what I was talking about. I also intimately know the bitterness of defeat - I am a Bills fan - and the thrill of victory - I am a Gator.
I was a cheerleader for six years.
Now that we have determined that I am qualified, let's get down to the analysis.
We'll start with practice.
I'm not going to deny that football practice is tough. It's got to be hot under all that padding. And I have heard that football players often throw up at practice, which, on the surface, makes them appear to be bad-ass dudes. But let's examine what takes place during said practice. There's running. And hitting. And...that's pretty much it. That's all it takes for those bad-ass dudes to toss their cookies.
Now let's examine cheerleading practice.
It's starts with the entire squad devouring an entire pan of brownies in .2 seconds. Followed by running, and shouting, and jumping, and tumbling, and shouting and more jumping and lifting human bodies, throwing human bodies, being lifted, being thrown, being tossed, being tumbled and more shouting and more jumping. All of this on a stomach full of rich ooey-gooey brownies.
Never once, in my six years of cheering, did a cheerleader lose her lunch, or her brownies for that matter, during practice. Because we are tough.
Football players will argue they are tougher by saying, "yeah, but you've never been through two-a-days. "
Ha! Try twelve-a-days, as in 12 hours of cheering a day for four straight days. You have not been to hell until you’ve been to cheering camp. Twelve solid hours of shouting, and squatting and lifting and learning the proper way to dismount a shoulder sit, which is the dumbest stunt in the history of ever, and laughing so hard you almost pee on your friend’s head but thankfully you slide to the floor in time and pee only in your pants.
Wait, what? Pee your pants? That never happened.
When I say 12 straight hours, I literally mean Twelve. Straight. Hours. Nothing is done without first cheering about it. When football coaches call their players in and tell them to have seat so they can tell them how much they suck at defense, it goes something like this:
Coaches: Bring it guys. Have a seat.
The players sit.
Coaches: You guys suck.
At cheering camp, if it’s time to sit down, 300 girls must first chant, with much enthusiasm and gusto: Have a seat, take a load off your feet! Tooty fruity put the load on your booty!
Oh no! The cheerleaders sat down, but they’re too close together. Time for a cheer! “Peanut butter, jelly spreeaad out!”
Some of you are probably thinking, “F*ck that. That’s ridiculous. There’s no way I’d shout that inane nonsense at the top of my lungs.”
And to that I say, “Oh yes you would.” Because at the end of each cheering camp night, a certain stick is awarded. A Spirit Stick.
Spirit sticks are only awarded to the squads who demonstrate insane amounts of cheeriness throughout the first 11 hours of the day. The last hour is spent expressly telling the camp leaders just how badly we want that stick:
“We want that stick! We want that stick! LIONS WANT THAT STICK! LIONS WANT THAT STICK! GIVE US THAT F*CKING STICK RIGHT NOW SO WE CAN CALL IT A NIGHT AND START THIS PROCESS ALL OVER AGAIN TOMORROW AT EIGHT IN THE EFFING MORNING!!!”
You don't see football players screaming their silly little heads off for some spirit ball at the end of two-a-days, do you? No. Because they don't have the stamina. They throw up after a little running and hitting, remember?
Speaking of hitting, I think we can all agree that football is a contact sport. But compared to cheerleading, it's more like aww-come-here-and-give-me-a-hug.
The blows football players endure are softened by padding. LOTS of padding. Padding for their knees, padding for their thighs, padding for their kidneys, padding for their shoulders, padding for their shins, helmets for their head, and, of course, padding for their wiener. Whatever you do, don't hurt the wiener!
Cheerleaders? Don't know the meaning of padding. They endure full-blown body to body blows. The number one rule of cheerleading is "sacrifice the body," which means the girls on the bottom of the stunt - the bases and spotter - sacrifice their own well-being for the girl on the top of the stunt - the flier. Why? Because the flier is being thrown and tossed through the air. A lot can go wrong during the throwing and tossing process and if the flier is not properly cradled, the injuries she will sustain will be far worse than those of the bases and spotters.
That's not to say the bases and spotter don't get beat the hell up. Once, I cradled early out of a stunt and landed on top of my bases head. That's like someone dropping a 95 pound bag of sand from a two story building square on your head. Go ahead, try it. You tell me how it feels.
Freshman year, we were practicing our Nationals routine in which K.N. K.P. and J were performing a simple, straight-forward stunt. K.N. and J. were the bases. K.N.'s head crashed into the side of J's nose and straight-up broke it. No one even knew she'd broken it until after we'd finished the routine and J was like, "guess what bitches? i just broke my nose." She went to the hospital but declined surgery until after Nationals, which was more than a month away.
That's right. J lived with a broken nose for more than a month because to have surgery rightaway would have meant she couldn't go to Nationals and the entire routine would have had to have been re-worked.
In cheerleading, the show must go on, and it does. But football? Pssh. Have you ever been to a football game when an injury has been sustained? The quarterback sprains his pinky on his non-throwing hand and everyone has to take a knee for ten minutes while 12 trainers, 23 medical staff and 14 hand specialists exam the pinky to determine if the quarterback will be okay.
Also, have you ever noticed that there is this group of football players called the offense and another group called the defense? For those of you unfamiliar with football, let me explain how this works. A team's offense plays for a few minutes and then those players sit down and the defense plays until those players sit down. In other words, every few minutes, the players get a rest. Football players will tell you this happens because that's how the game is played.
I won't argue that point, but instead pose this question: And why do you think the game is played that way?
Oh! I know, I know! Pick me!
The game is played that way because the inventors of football were all, "these guys could never last if they had to play an entire game. let's create two different groups of players and design it so they are never on the field at the same time."
Cheerleaders don't have off-ense and de-fense, we have allthetime-fense. While the football players rest, what do the cheerleaders do? They. Cheer.
And during time outs, when the entire team rests? The cheerleaders cheer.
And in between quarters, when, again, the entire team rests? The cheerleaders cheer.
And during half-time when the entire team just cannot take it any longer and goes inside for some air-conditioning and a little nappy-poo?
The cheerleaders do an extra-long cheer so that the crowd can maintain their enthusiasm and stamina to cheer on those oh-so-weary football players when they return to the field for some more, running, resting, defending, ball-catching, and oh yeah, resting.
And while those football players are running, resting, defending, ball-catching, and resting, you know what else they're doing? Peeing and crapping their spandex.
I've heard that if a football player needs to go to the bathroom during the game, they just go. In their pants. (Although I've done no research to determine if this is true, for the sake of this post, we're going to assume this is true, but for the sake of humanity, we're going to assume that only some football players do this.)
Peeing and crapping your pants and then running, resting, defending, ball-catching and resting in said pee and crap does not make you tough, football players. It just makes you gross.
What does a cheerleader do if she needs to use the restroom rightnow and there isn't one around? She pees. On the floor. In the middle of a mall. She leaves a puddle and runs away for someone else to clean up. By the time the cheering squad arrives at the football game, the entire stadium knows about the incident and the cheerleader has a bad-ass new nickname: Puddles*
Would you mess with someone named Puddles? No, you would not.
Honestly, I could go on all day. But we get the point, yes? Football players may be tough, but cheerleaders? Defined tough. Try to debate that and we'll cheer your ass into a corner. Big deal, you say?
We go spirit yes we do, we got spirit how bout you?! We got spirit yes we do, we got spirit how bout you?! WE GOT SPIRIT YES WE DO, WE GOT SPIRIT HOW BOUT YOU?!
Could you handle that for 12 straight hours?
I didn't think so.
*I know you want to believe Puddles and the Sarcasm Goddess are one in the same, but I am sorry to disappoint you. Twas not I who peed in a mall. That honor is bestowed upon one of my dearest friends.