My cheerleading team is considered a club sport at my college. Now, I have never been the type of cheerleader to complain and start an argument over whether cheerleading is a sport or not. I do not get upset when people say that what we do isn’t a sport and we aren’t really athletes. And the reason I don’t get upset about it is because I know how much athleticism and energy and endurance and stamina it takes to be a cheerleader; I know that what we do on the sidelines does not even begin to compare to what our competition routine entails. I am confident that I am an athlete. And I am confident that cheerleading is a sport. For those who disagree, I’m sorry, but I could care less. I love my sport and that’s all that matters.
However, the differences in club vs. Division 1 sports teams do get annoying when they are made blatantly obvious in multiple ways throughout the year. I can’t tell you how many times I see the D1 athletes write their name down on a list at Tim Horton’s or the dining hall to redeem their free meals. They sign their seemingly soon-to-be famous signatures away for a complimentary meal while I swipe my card and watch my GriffBucks that I actually pay for go down the drain. Or how about the wardrobe of free clothes that each Division 1 athlete receives? Must be nice to have new winter coats, warm ups, shoes, t-shirts, shorts, and backpacks every single year. Yeah, my team has warm ups, too. But guess what? We each paid out of pocket for them. I guess if I were offered all of those things for free, I’d take it, too. Who can blame them?
Now it’d be one thing if all of our D1 athletes were top-notch and won titles every season and brought in great crowds to the games and earned the respect of their peers. But I’ll be honest; Canisius College doesn’t necessarily gain its popularity from the winning records of our athletic teams. All of our teams work hard, I will give them that. But it’d be nice if they could see things from the other side. I wonder how many athletes would commit to their sports if there weren’t so many perks involved. Sometimes I look at these D1 athletes and I wonder if they even love their sport or they’re just doing it for the free ride. That’s one benefit that us “non-athletic regular people” have over these D1 athletes. We don’t get the perks. We don’t get the benefits. We barely even get any recognition. But we do it anyways. And we do it because we love it. For the majority of us, that’s the only incentive we have. But for us, that’s enough.