Things are changing in the world that more traditional masculinity distills, the spectacle of American football. Sport, passion and, for the first time, two men cheerleaders in the center of the Atlanta stadium. It is the final of Super Bowl 2019, one of the most followed sporting events in the United States and this year, in addition to the 22 players with protections, shoulder pads and helmets, has had two different male players on the grass. Some stereotypes begin to change.
They are Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies, from the team of Los Angeles Rams cheerleaders, who have made history by being the first boys to participate in the choreographic of a grand final in which only women have participated so far. Both already opened the way in 2018 to join the group of cheerleaders of a team of the National Football League (NLF) and their example has already had some effect. The New Orelans Saints’ also have a boy in their group of dancers.
Although the spectators of the major sports competitions in the United States have already begun to see men in the animation teams, they participate as “support” in the girls’ exercises. The novelty is that Peron and Jinnies are dancers on an equal footing with their mates, although with other clothing and no pom-poms.
American football, which condenses many elements of traditional masculinity, thus opens the door to a breakdown of stereotypes through a different door. If the path of women to worlds reserved until recently only for men is being traveled with determination, theirs towards areas considered “feminine” is slower. Roles continue to weigh heavily when talking about masculinity.
Anyway, from some US media it is pointed out that behind this open door to the boys there may be an attempt to wash the image of the teams. Female cheerleaders have complained this season of their low salaries, rigid dress codes and sexual harassment that have to endure some fans of the teams.
Road in reverse
Women already conquer masculinized areas, men come more slowly to feminized spaces.
“It’s about time, I think it took too long to incorporate the guys!” Adriana Boy, responsible for BCNcheer, an Allstar club, that is, a club dedicated to competition in this specialty and not to animation. To be a cheerleader, he explains, we work with agility, flexibility, rhythm and strength. It is a very complete sport, he continues, where teamwork is essential. The group must be very synchronized and in training it is important that no one fails to perform the exercises.
You start with a warm-up and gymnastic exercises, you have to learn the choreography and train the acrobatics. It helps to have skills for gymnastics and dance, nothing so that sticks to something exclusively reserved for women.
In fact, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries cheerleading was a male sport in the United States based on gymnastics, acrobatics and the ability to lead the animation of the public. It was from the 30s when women began to incorporate. And in the 50s the more athletic character began to change for the animation, appearing in the 60 the famous pompoms.
Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, presidents of the United States, were part of the teams of cheerleaders of their respective universities, which reflects the relevance that was given to participate in this activity.