Should Powderpuff take a time out?


Senior girls partake in the annual Powderpuff game.

Northwest’s annual Powderpuff football game has come and gone. Each year, high school students swap roles and take on a new experience. Students are brought together by viewing boys in cheerleading uniforms and watching intense struggles between junior and senior girls playing football. The game raises spirits and creates fun, Instagram-worthy memories.

“You get to meet all these people, all the (cheerleading) guys were from different friend groups, but now they want to go to the Woods of Terror together,” senior Ava Berry said. “We’re all really sad (Powderpuff) is over.” 

Powderpuff is a fun experience that gives studentsーwho otherwise may not have much in common—the opportunity to build new friendships.

 “I loved it so much, I have no regrets,” Berry said. “Honestly I wish there were more practices, not to get better, but just to keep hanging out with them and keep doing what we were doing.” 

Effective coaching and positive team effort resulted in an extremely successful and memorable halftime show, as well as garnered further respect for the hard work put in by the Northwest cheerleading squad.

“The cheerleaders were great; they helped us so much,” senior Mitchell Vermilyea said. “I never realized how hard cheer was until I was sweating after every practice.”

The overall experience was definitely one I’d recommend to other people if you get the chance. Don’t be shy wearing a cheerleading uniform, it’s just for one day.”

— Mitchell Vermilyea

Although Powderpuff is fun for participants, it is an outdated practice that espouses–and almost mocks–gender stereotypes.  Many have expressed concern about Powderpuff being neither inclusive nor sensitive to those not within the gender boundaries of what is considered “normal.”

For instance, if an individual is a male cheerleader or female football player and wants to participate in Powderpuff, there is confusion about which team/sport they take part in. Those individuals already must break down many barriers to play the sport their gender would not traditionally partake in. The purpose of Powderpuff is to be entertaining and comical; however, it can be hurtful to the athlete when their progress is being laughed at by a large majority of the school.

“It’s like saying, ‘Oh you’re a boy; well, let’s make you cheer because it’s funny,’ and ‘oh, you’re a girl; well, that’s not normal for you to play football,’” junior Claire Halterman said.

Furthermore, not all good came from the game. While deemed one of the most successful Powderpuff games in recent years, there was still room for improvement, primarily in coaching. Due to the fun nature of the sport, many players were not there to memorize all the plays/drills, rather, to have fun. Problems among the students– both as coaches and players– are, of course, expected to occur when those who do not collaborate well meet for an event. However, some participants said there were hateful comments that were unnecessary from coaches towards the girls. 

“(Some coaches) weren’t as nice to the girls as others; I heard some things about them saying rude remarks to girls. I don’t think that’s good for just a fun game to play,” Halterman said.

Lastly, the never-ending, shallow “high school politics” was a game that was seemingly played as much as football itself. With many players voicing concern, Halterman touched upon the subject.

“I feel like some of the girls weren’t played as much as everyone else; that’s the whole thing about Powderpuff, it’s a popularity contest,” Halterman said. 

Overall, Northwest’s annual Powderpuff game is an enjoyable tradition. Although the concept is somewhat outdated, most participants enjoy the experience. The cheerleaders are willing and eager to learn as much as they can. The football players delve into new adventures with open minds.

“The overall experience was definitely one I’d recommend to other people if you get the chance,” Vermilyea said. “Don’t be shy wearing a cheerleading uniform; it’s just for one day.”