Why is cheerleading the only sport that requires masking?

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By Kaitlin Campbell, Staff Reporter

Tying bows and grabbing poms, the cConestoga Cheerleaders cannot forget masks, but other Conestoga athletes can ditch the mask.   

Through the pandemic, sports have continued with the help of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). The PIAA created guidelines for all Pennsylvania high schools during the 2020-2021 school year, but this year individual schools made their own COVID-19 guidelines.  In 2021, The Tredyffrin/Easttown School District issued a statement that masking for indoor, winter sports wasis not required.  

Wrestlers and basketball players enjoyed this mask flexibility, practicing without them or just hanging out- but wait, why couldn’taren’t cheerleaders wearwearing masks?  There needs to be greater athletic equality at Conestoga: for one, no masking for cheerleaders.

Cheerleading is already dangerous without the stress of masks. A 2021 study published in the Orthapedic Journal of Sports Medicine stated that since 2010, there has been an increased amount of injured cheerleaders being admitted to the Emergency Department and a 44.3% increase in concussions, making it one of the most high-risk sports.  Now, imagine the added level with masks.  A mask restricts cardio for tumblers and during stunting.  The tumblers throw complex skills that demand full cardio. While stunting, all members of the stunt are constantly moving: flipping a flyer, pulling a skill and exerting all force to keep stunts up in the air.  

Fellow Central League schools’ — Marple Newtown, Garnet Valley and Springfield — cheerleaders diddo not wear masks at all.  Cheerleading is a recognized sport by the PIAA and therefore, includeding the cheer teams in mask flexibility.  Cheering on the benches of basketball games, they gotget to show their spirits to the fullest extent. That is the purpose of cheerleading: to show spirit.  Trying to cheer and get your student section to be hype should be the goal of cheerleading— not to avoid choking on your mask.  

The amount of emails the cheer coach receiveds about improper mask-wearing should deem her the new Dr. Faucci for constantly reviewing how to satisfy the community.  The complaints of improper mask-wearing wereare reasonable because sometimes a mask falls completely below the chin or one of the tumblers pulls it down for their pass on the gym floor.  But the overload of people saying that cheerleaders needed to wear a mask properly is just ironic: they typed these emails while pulling down their masks to scream for their kids on the court.

Now, I get it. Sideline cheerleaders can wear masks because they are sitting on the bench, doing hand motions and yelling – nothing that challenges one’s stamina too much.  Also, there is no possibility for social distancing in the stands, so there should be precautions.

However, I want to point out the other winter sports: wrestling, two athletes from opposing schools on top of each other, grappling, spitting and bleeding all over one another, are not wearing masks.  The cheerleaders are close while stunting, with zero spit, all from one school and hang out together on the weekends, but require masks.  

For the Big C to remain a place of greatness, athletes should speak to their Athletic Directors.  By doing so, a student can peacefully point out the discrepancies within the sport, and work on a plan to improve it.  


Kaitlin can be reached at [email protected]