Respect for All

Respect for All

Valentine McNeilly, Staff Writer

There recently appeared in The Scituation an opinion piece entitled “Cheerleaders Deserve Respect.” While my words appear several times in this article, they are arranged for intent and purpose. For my part in this piece, I was lazy. I threw some thoughts out there, and they were carried away. When they landed, they weren’t the same. I am still responsible.

Let me be clear today. Words matter. I know today how true it is. The way you string them together in writing–and the ones you say out loud. The way you choose to phrase them, why you even use them, and even the words you choose to leave out. They all have intent. And they all matter.

These are my words–I love cheer. I am still that third-grader who loves the fall air, red track dust, high ponytails, and big floppy bows. I love the busses, rainy games, and hot chocolate. I love new traditions like the camaraderie of senior night and fun drives with teammates, but I also miss the old ones, too, like making pillowcases and pizza parties. I’ve delivered speeches and written papers on all the facets of this unique sport that has the ability to branch into so many facets of my life.

I love competition, the actual sport of the cheerleader, and the place we hope to get to once a year if we’re good enough–whether people come to see us or not. We have the support we need and I am grateful. We work hard, too. We sprain ankles and wrists. We pop knees and suffer concussions, and we are still able to achieve success. And it’s awesome. 

Football and cheer are not equal because they are different. I don’t feel conflicted about this. They are two separate things that will always go hand in hand while there are games to play and fans in the stands. It’s still a shared experience, and we’re so lucky that people make it happen for us. I’m proud to represent my school, and so I am respectful of others who feel the same. And like any other sport–when it’s good, it’s great; when it’s not, well, you know. 

It is true that there have been some football players in the past who have treated the cheerleaders with disrespect; they have graduated and moved on. To clarify, there have not been any shaming or degrading comments toward us from this present team of football players, only from our own peers, unfortunately. The way we treat each other matters, and it looks like we do have some things to work on. 

To my fellow Scituation staffers and to SHS football players, please know I support you and all of your teammates, not only on Friday nights but every day in the halls of the school–not just because I’m a cheerleader but because I do try to be a responsible human.

People matter. I think we all know we could be doing a better job. Whether you’re a football player or cheerleader, whatever sport you play or hope to play, whatever club, or group, or personal project you’re participating in, whatever inspires you in school or after school, everyone deserves respect here.