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16 Things Everyone Gets Totally Wrong About Cheerleading

Shush about the pom-poms, already.

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We asked the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the misconceptions people have about cheerleading. Here are their responses to set the record straight.

1. First of all, despite popular belief, know this: Cheerleading is freaking difficult.

ESPNU / Via xsfcheerx.tumblr.com

"I've had my jaw kicked so hard during a performance that I couldn't open it, had busted lips, and black eyes. During the off-season we lifted weights like crazy to maintain strength. There is a lot more to it than people assume."

-- Tonya Blankenship, Facebook

2. But at the same time, not every cheerleader is required to do insane flips and tumbles.

The CW / Via hsm-4ever.tumblr.com

"There are some tricks that are illegal in certain states. For example, any trick that requires you to travel over another person, or any flip that rotates more than once, is illegal in Nebraska."

-- Sarah

3. Not everyone who cheers has to be super peppy and bubbly. You can be April Ludgate and still slay at stunts and flips.

MTV / Via gurl.tumblr.com

"My monotone voice and lack of enthusiasm makes me an expert at sarcasm, and nobody believes I was a cheerleader -- they think that's my sarcasm talking!"

-- Ciara Rodrigues, Facebook

4. Cheerleading is NOT just for girls!

FOX

"Some of the most badass cheerleaders I know are males. They're powerhouses, and bring a whole new element to the sport. Without them, some really awesome stunts wouldn't even be possible."

-- Megan Barlly, Facebook

5. And, no, not all male cheerleaders are gay.

NBC

"It's definitely an outside perception, and really shouldn't even be one. What people SHOULD focus on, instead of speculating sexual orientation, should be all about the strength and hard work that cheerleading requires."

-- jacaudi5

6. Being part of a cheer squad has absolutely nothing to do with how smart someone is.

Universal Pictures / Via ohwoooowlovely.tumblr.com

"The 'dumb cheerleader' is a stereotype that Hollywood basically created. I'm a law school graduate, and my cheer days were the best of my life!"

-- Erin Darsow, Facebook

7. It's a huge time commitment.

AwesomenessTV / Via giovannalovesyou.tumblr.com

"Cheerleaders practice at least twice a week and have to attend almost every big sporting event. There’s so much behind-the-scenes stuff that goes unnoticed."

-- madisonw9

8. There's a purpose behind the "skimpy" uniforms, and that purpose is safety.

2X2 Productions / Via giphy.com

"The point is not to expose a ton of skin -- baggy and large clothing can actually get caught on fingers, ears, etc. and cause serious damage! The more form-fitting the outfit, the less likely someone will get hurt because of a uniform-related incident."

-- katies46

10. Cheerleading isn't just yelling from the sidelines of sports games.

ESPNU / Via xsfcheerx.tumblr.com

"There are so many ways to cheer, like being part of an All Star team, where you have to be able to do all different kinds of flips, jumps, and tricks to even audition. It's freaking awesome."

-- katiet4

11. Being on a squad isn't just a platform for ~mean girls~ to hang out.

Columbia Pictures / Via spacecadet.tumblr.com

"At my school there were people from all walks of life and backgrounds, and we worked our asses off! You don't just swish your ponytail and put on some mascara and call yourself a cheerleader. And some of the nicest people I've ever met were introduced to me through my team."

-- Lindsey Blincoe, Facebook

12. And being part of a squad doesn't necessarily mean you have to be Miss or Mister Popular.

NBC / Via drake-ramoray.tumblr.com

"I wasn't unpopular, but I was friends with people outside my team. But some of those groups from around school judged ME for being a cheerleader, and kicked me out of THEIR groups, when my fellow cheerleaders weren't bothered by who I was friends with."

-- Ciara Rodrigues, Facebook

13. We don't get special treatment, by any means.

Nickelodeon

"At least when it comes to school teams, it's really difficult to get funding compared to other sports. Cheerleading can get expensive, upwards of $1,000 for outfits and travel."

-- caitlinc4

16. And ultimately, we need to end the ongoing, unnecessary debate with this: CHEERLEADING IS A SPORT.

CBS Sports / Via weheartit.com

"I'm a 2D black belt and have played other sports, and cheer was often the most physically and mentally challenging for me. I've injured myself more in cheer than I did in any other sport."

-- Erin Darsow, Facebook

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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