The National Football League announced last week that three male cheerleaders will debut during the upcoming season. This monumental addition to the NFL is a refreshing change of pace, especially given the recent controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem.
Of the 32 teams in the league, two of them will host the cheerleaders. Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies joined the Los Angeles Rams back in March. After reading their story, Jesse Hernandez took a leap of faith, and auditioned to cheer for the New Orleans Saints. He made the cut and will be the only male on the cheer team.
It is important to note that a few teams in the league do currently have stuntmen, who are a base to support the female cheerleaders. The difference is that the male cheerleaders will perform alongside the rest of the squad.
This decision to take on male cheerleaders could not have come at a more perfect time. People should not be looked down upon or denied from doing something because of their gender. For instance, some high school football teams have allowed young women to play on the team, which have traditionally been only for boys. Those girls have become the stars of their team.
There would be an uproar if we denied girls the opportunity to compete in a male-dominated field. It only makes sense that we reciprocate that sentiment. Thankfully, the barrier between the sexes is being broken down, slowly but surely. We are reaching a day and age where we empower young people to pursue whatever they are passionate about, and to not let anyone tell them that they cannot do something because of their gender.
For example, this scenario happens far too often. A young girl wanted to play soccer. Her mother signed her up for the recreational soccer team and she loved it so much. Once her father found out, he forced her to quit. She was not allowed to do anything that remotely resembled masculinity: no pants, no ‘boy’ sports and no wearing the color blue.
This is an example of fragile, and quite frankly toxic, masculinity. This ideology manifests itself into the mindsight of little boys who may want to explore an area of interest but are too afraid to do so because of the judgement of their peers.
They may want to pursue something in the arts but are anxious over the reactions they would receive from friends and family. They are afraid of being called gay or acting like a girl, which is supposed to be an insult. I think it should be a compliment given how strong the female population is.
This leads to kids forcing themselves to adhere to the male standard of what they should and should not like. Over time, this can lead to feelings of depression, because they are not able to express themselves in the manner they chose.
If a girl wants to pursue something that is considered masculine, she should be able to do it. If a boy wants to pursue something that is considered feminine, he should be able to do it as well.
These are just words that we give meaning to. In no way should they negatively affect who you are a person.
This historic addition to the National Football League has opened doors for many more to come. Maybe one day we will see women on the field throwing around the ol’ pigskin on a professional league. Football is a highly regarded pastime that all can enjoy, which is why everyone should be given an equal opportunity to participate.
Luckily, young boys now have three new role models they can look up to this fall. When they are watching the games on the television screen, they can ask themselves if want to be a football player or a cheerleader. Careers and hobbies do not need to fit a certain gender. They should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of traditional ideals of gender.