by Kelly Crigger
If someone ever tells you they’re your biggest cheerleader, stop expecting them to be there for you when you need them. Now I’m sure anyone who’s ever donned the sacred high school mascot outfit or binge-watched CHEER will disagree, but here’s why you should avoid the cheerleader personality…
By definition, a cheerleader is someone who does not have a direct impact on the outcome of an event. A cheerleader attempts to incite passion in those who stand outside the playing field by making noise for those who are in the arena engaged in competition. They’re not the ones actually doing the thing. They’re trying to inspire the combatants who do the thing. Cheerleaders are the anathema of the military mindset because by definition a warfighter is a doer while a cheerleader is a noise-maker.
What everyone needs instead is a teammate. Teammates back their words up with action and we’ve all been in those situations when we desperately needed one. Having someone who shows how committed they truly are to us with action is priceless. When a sprained ankle has you sidelined, a teammate comes over on a cold winter day and hangs the Christmas lights on the outside of the house. When a nasty divorce has you emotionally wracked, a teammate brings pizza and beer and the Blu Ray special edition of Spaceballs. When Covid has you on death’s door, a teammate sits with you in the ER getting warm blankets and a puke bucket while the cheerleaders sit at home scratching their nuts watching TikToks.
And when you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains, and the women come out to carve up what remains (hat tip to Rudyard Kipling), it’s a teammate who rolls to his rifle and provides cover fire while calling in close air support and a nine-line MEDEVAC. Not a cheerleader. I’ll take one good teammate over five cheerleaders any day.
Don’t expect anything of substance from a cheerleader and certainly don’t expect them to have your back. They’re a breed apart who simply don’t have the required tools to be a teammate. When the chips are down it’s time for action, cheerleaders are on the sidelines avoiding risk while teammates are next to you saying, “Let’s go homie. I got you.”
Cheerleaders represent the most worthless human emotion – hope. Because hope is waiting for someone else to do what you can’t. Cheerleaders belong on sporting fields. Not battlefields.