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Cheerleading is a Sport This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     The New York Times states that cheerleading is the fastest growing girls’ sport, yet more than half of Americans do not believe it is a sport. In addition, they fail to distinguish between sideline cheerleaders and competitive ones. Sideline cheerleaders’ main goal is to entertain the crowd and lead them with team cheers, which should not be considered a sport. On the other hand, competitive cheerleading is a sport.

A sport, according to the Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors, is a “physical activity [competition] against/with an opponent, governed by rules and conditions under which a winner is declared, and primary purpose of the competition is a comparison of the relative skills of the participants.” Because cheerleading follows these guidelines, it is a sport.

Competitive cheerleading includes lots of physical activity. Like gymnasts, cheerleaders must learn to tumble. They perform standing back flips, round flip flops, and full layout twists. Cheerleaders also perform lifts and tosses. This is where the “fliers” are thrown in the air, held by “bases” in different positions that require strength and cooperation with other teammates.

Just as basketball and football have guidelines for competitive play, so does competitive cheerleading. The whole routine has to be completed in less than three minutes and 15 seconds and the cheerleaders are required to stay within a certain area.

Competitive cheerleaders’ goal is to be the best. Just like gymnasts, they are awarded points for difficulty, technique, creativity and sharpness. The more difficult a mount or a stunt, the sharper and more in-sync the motions, the better the score. Cheerleading is a team sport so without cooperation and synchronization, first place is out of reach.

According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, cheerleading is the number-one cause of serious sports injuries to women. Emergency room visits for cheerleading are five times the number than for any other sport, partially because they do not wear protective gear. While many athletes are equipped with hip pads, knee pads, shin guards or helmets, smiling cheerleaders are tossed into the air and spiral down into the arms of trusted teammates. The fliers must remain tight at all times so that their bases can catch them safely. Also, because cheerleading is not yet recognized as a sport by many schools, neither proper matting nor high enough ceilings are provided to ensure safety. Instead, the girls use whatever space is available. More recognition of competitive cheerleading as a sport would decrease the number of injuries.

So why do many Americans not think cheerleading is a sport? It cannot be because cheerleaders do not use balls or manipulate objects (if you do not count megaphones, pompoms and signs as objects). Wrestling, swimming, diving, track, cross-country, gymnastics, ice-skating and boxing are recognized sports that do not use balls. Some people argue that cheerleaders are just “flirts in skirts” with their only job to entertain the crowd, but cheerleaders today compete against other squads and work just as hard as other athletes.

Competitive cheerleading is a sport. It is a physical activity that is governed by rules under which a winner can be declared and its primary purpose is to compare the skills of participants. Hopefully, cheerleading will become as well-known a sport as football and basketball, and even appear in the Olympics since cheerleaders are just as athletic and physically fit as those involved in the more accepted sports.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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This article has 354 comments. Post your own!

kayleyschuitema4 said...
today at 12:09 pm:
I completely agree that competitive cheer is a sport. This article clearly explains how hard and active this SPORT really is
 
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otter said...
Mar. 18 at 11:38 pm:
This begs the question as to what is a sport. I've gotten into debates about this before many of you teens were born. To be a sport, you need: (1) competition- there is a clear winner(s) and clear non-winners (or losers if you will). (2) Said activity must require physical skills. (3) Lastly, and often forgotten- this competition must have a clear, objective way of deciding that winner.   So let's use this criteria to determine whether the activities below are sports: - playin... (more »)
 
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xonikkitayor said...
Mar. 14 at 1:47 pm:
Yes, i completely agree that cheerleading is a sport. I use to play cheerleading a couple years ago and it does require a lot of physical activity. I think any activity that requires physical activity is considered a sport.
 
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Briana_Quintiliano said...
Feb. 13 at 9:18 pm:
Yes i completely agree with the fact that sideline cheerleading and competitive cheerleading differ in many areas. Side line cheer is not a sport where competitive cheer is. Cheerleaders work just as hard as any athlete and just like Renee said, it is another sport that doesn't use a ball. Instead of a ball, they use teamwork, strength, and determination. I beleive a lot of people look down on cheerleading and dont actually see how hard it is. It is a sport with a mixture of dance, gymnastic... (more »)
 
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Keenan22 said...
Feb. 11 at 8:10 pm:
Yes I would agree with this article because if you actually go against another team, then yes cheerleading is considered a sport in my eyes.  I can relate to this because my best friend is in competitive cheerleading, which is a sport.  I do understand why cheerleaders get so worked up over this but when you are only cheering for football or basketball, no it is nowhere even close to be considered as being a sport.  You are not competing against another team the football or basket... (more »)
 
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cheer101 said...
Jan. 28 at 2:29 pm:
Seriously try being on an all star cheerleading team! You won't even last! Throwing double fulls, layouts, tucks, and several back hand springs seriously gives you so much exercise! plus your taking gymnastics 3-4 times a week! Which plays a huge part in cheerleading. Not to mention when your picking up a girl for stunting, and in my routine i'm holding up a girl for 6, 8  counts straight! seriously you try to hold someone that long while their pulling skills in the air right o... (more »)
 
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trini342 said...
Jan. 20 at 12:34 pm:
A lot of people are saying that competitive cheerleading isn't a sport because it has a panel of judges that decide the winner and score each routine. If that's the case then you would have to consider gymnastics, diving, and figure skating as well. Their scores are based on a panel of judges, but they are considered sports. What makes competitive cheerleading any different? I don't even cheerlead, I play lacrosse, and I can clearly see that competitive cheerleading is a sport.
 
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Kaho said...
Jan. 13 at 9:00 am:
Cheerleaders are athleates because they are just working hard. They are practicing hardly. They are working hard and they are moving their bodies. I think cheerleaders are athleates.  
 
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lexiibealeThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 12 at 10:14 am:
I've been a cheerleader for four yeara and you absolutely do get a workout from cheer! It is not easy lifting a one hundred pound girl in the air! It is not easy to flip your body in the air. It is not easy to have sharp motions and coomplete a three minute rutuine. You've got to be in shape to do all those things.
 
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Cheerleading4Life said...
Jan. 7 at 3:16 pm:
You really have to condsider the hours of practice that leads to sideline cheerleading. Even sideline cheerleaders practice daily and stunt, tumble, jump and chant. Stunting and tumble alone are enough for sideline cheering to be considered a sport because of the sweat and injuries that come out of it. 
 
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Cheerleading011 said...
Jan. 7 at 3:14 pm:
Yes you do. Cheerleading practices are one of the worse practices. Theres hours of conditioning, stunting, tumbling, and then finally cheering. 
 
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minnie1234 said...
Dec. 19, 2013 at 8:28 pm:
i think it si not a sport because it dosent give u excrise
 
ilove you replied...
Jan. 15 at 11:15 pm :
no excercise? seriously . thats hilarious. why do you thin all the all star cheerlewders have absand are fit? huh? fromsittingon the couch like you all day , and eating .
 
briana_quintiliano replied...
Feb. 13 at 9:21 pm :
Sorry Minni but you are completely wrong with that statement. I for one was a cheerleader, we had conditiong camps all througnout summer, ran before every practice, performed cardio workouts at the end of practice, and just in general cheerleading is a workout in itself. Flipping in the air uses a lot of muscle just as lifting people. 
 
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sexyminnie said...
Dec. 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm:
TBH (to be honest) i do not think cheerleading is sport because u cant get any excrise from cheering that's my opinion...........
 
RobinLynn replied...
Jan. 6 at 12:08 pm :
For thoses that so you can't get any excersize from cheerleading,  tumbling and stunting are both endurance and strength activities. Tumbling itself is pure cardio and strength. Doing a simple backhandspring is a full body activity. Legs- squat, jump- cardio, -arms/shoulders- the block from the handstand, abs- the snap down. Do this over and over again until it is perfected... you have just done a full body workout and that is the very BASIC tumbling skill in cheerleading. I have yet to... (more »)
 
hayliebeanThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Jan. 23 at 11:46 am :
When I was in cheer, I was in the best shape I had ever been in, and I was only a sideline cheerleader.  If you do not think cheerleading is a sport, then you should do some more reasearch!  I got so much exercise from cheerleading!  I was toned and lean and I looked great because of it!  During practices, if we were misbehaving, we did laps, or push ups.  I was 120 lbs, and I lifted a girl onto my shoulders who was 175 lbs.  Cheerleading being a sport is not an opi... (more »)
 
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Emely S. This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 19, 2013 at 10:49 am:
In my personal opion cheerleadin is not a sport. 
 
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santaclaussyayshello said...
Dec. 16, 2013 at 9:12 am:
I think cheerleading is a jolly good sport. Santa says hello cheerleaders!!!
 
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Ashley G. said...
Dec. 3, 2013 at 10:11 am:
It's a good thing
 
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