Mac Engel

No one gets the short end in college athletics more than a cheerleader

TCU Horned Frogs Cheerleader Brittany Gibson practices before the game
TCU Horned Frogs Cheerleader Brittany Gibson practices before the game Star-Telegram

In a now viral video posted by her mom, a Houston girl wearing a University of Central Florida cheerleading uniform tells the one-handed linebacker good luck in the NFL Draft and shows that her disability isn't preventing her from tumbling.

There is always the chance of not making the squad the next season, so best to say nothing.

In a now viral video posted by her mom, a Houston girl wearing a University of Central Florida cheerleading uniform tells the one-handed linebacker good luck in the NFL Draft and shows that her disability isn't preventing her from tumbling.

As far as compensation, in the form of scholarships, or books, it normally depends on whether the squad "competes" in sanctioned events.

Texas Tech competes, and it offers scholarships. It's cheer program, however, is not a part of athletics. It's a part of student affairs.

TCU, which for years had its cheer programs under Fine Arts, no longer competes, and offers no scholarships.

Texas offers "small merit-based scholarships."

An increasing number of schools are making the training table meals, which is for student athletes, available at certain times for members of the cheer teams.

"It's really a part-time job for the girls," said Amy Mabry, whose daughter, Peyton, was a cheerleader at TCU for one year before a back injury ended her career.

According to one former TCU Showgirl, the team is expected to practice four hours per week; log at least two hour of workout classes; practice with the band one hour before the games, and one hour on the morning of a game.

Cheerleaders practice roughly 20 hours of week, with the expectations of tanning, and maintaining a certain hair length. Tanning can also require at least a portion of out of pocket expense.

In speaking to 10 former college cheerleaders, they all said they cherished their respective experiences, but were well aware of the lack of compensation compared to the rest of the student athletes they supported.

A member of the men's golf team will have access to first pick of scheduling, among other amenities, while the far more visible cheerleader has no such benefit.

"I think one of the big changes we are seeing with this now is everyone is more aware of compensation," Martin said. "When I got into athletics as a student assistant, I just wanted to be a part of it. I never thought about being paid or anything like that."

The primary use of an athletic department for a university is not to win a big game, but to serve as an effective marketing tool, or sales pitch, for potential students, i.e. customers. A winning team enhances the brand.

A cheerleading group has a positive effect on the brand, and often times can create far more "free publicity" schools covet to help sell their school.

"Cheerleaders are athletes, but I don't think everyone sees them as athletes," Peyton Mabry said. "I would not trade my time doing it because it was a goal for me, but after having done it I can definitely say there are some things that could be improved; whether it's the supervision or compensation, there should be more attention to it because of the attention cheerleaders create for their school."

In a now viral video posted by her mom, a Houston girl wearing a University of Central Florida cheerleading uniform tells the one-handed linebacker good luck in the NFL Draft and shows that her disability isn't preventing her from tumbling.

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