The conundrum of C/cheerleading

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The growth of cheerleading as a popular school-based physical activity for people of both genders in the UK poses a challenge for physical education teachers in particular and educators in general. This paper draws on theoretical concepts and empirical research on gender, performance and cheerleading to highlight the multilayered, diverse, even contradictory meanings that can ‘attach’ to this imported cultural activity. Some of the ambiguity is caused by the distance between the idea of ‘Cheerleading’ that carries some global connotations and the sorts of ‘cheerleading’ which may be adapted versions within local contexts. Through a brief exploration of the translation of the activity and of teachers' descriptions of its practice in the UK, we hope to highlight the inherent ambiguity of cheerleading and thus, the potential and pitfalls that accompany it. The paper suggests that educators in the UK will need to recognise the diversity of meanings associated with this activity, its cultural import and the implications of this for their practice to cultivate a critically informed stance in relation to introducing and teaching cheerleading in schools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-907
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number7
Early online date29 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • C/cheerleading
  • Translation/adaptation of physical-cultural activity
  • Critical pedagogical practice

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