Football's High-Scoring Play Has Unexpected Consequence for Cheerleaders

While the Harvard football team and its fans celebrated Saturday's 69-0 drubbing of Columbia—the program’s largest margin of victory since 1891—many of the Crimson cheerleaders were probably quietly regretting their decision for in-game pushups in the wake of the record-setting beatdown.

For those that haven't been to many of the Harvard football games, it’s customary for the cheerleading squad to get down and do pushups after every Crimson score. For a mediocre football program this wouldn’t be a problem for the cheer squad, but one of the highest-scoring seasons in Harvard history has incidentally led to a lot of sore arms.

Take last Saturday, for instance. The cheerleaders happily dropped and gave seven after the Crimson's first score, and then 14 after that, and 21 after that, and so forth. Three hours later, they were doing 55, then 62, then 69 pushups. In a 45-second span in the second quarter where Harvard scored three touchdowns, the cheerleaders did 84 pushups. Throughout the course of the game, they did 381 pushups in total.

“I cannot believe we did all that,” freshman cheerleader Tiana Raphel said in disbelief. “I think some people weren’t even moving by the end, and I was shaking.”

The Harvard cheer squad has had to face similar hardship all season. The football team has scored more than 40 points in half of its games this season, and is averaging almost 43 points a game through the season. As a result, the cheerleaders have done an astounding 1,355 pushups.

In fact, it’s reaching a point where the squad has started to dread any more scoring.

“It usually happens after they score about 21 points,” Raphel said. “It’s kind of hard, because you’re supposed to cheer them on, but you secretly don’t want them to score any more points.”