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

     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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chα chα said...
Apr. 10, 2015 at 11:39 am
чєαh thíѕ mαkєѕmє mαd whєn pєσplє ѕαч dαncє αnd chєєr lєαdíng íѕ nσt α ѕpσrt í chσѕє tσ dσ α ѕpєєch σn thíѕ tσpíc αnd mч clαѕѕ hαd thíѕ hugє dєвαtє σn mч ѕpєєch αnd ít tσσk líkє thє hσlє pєríσd
Maryk replied...
May 2, 2015 at 10:02 am
I think when you do this debate you should be more resurrect on both sides of the issue
Dakota88zxc said...
Apr. 9, 2015 at 1:06 am
Okay, first off, I love this and I only had to read the title. I'm not a cheerleader, but I'm a ballerina, and it makes me want to snap someone in half when they say either of them aren't physically (or mentally) demanding. I give you props.
Maryk replied...
Apr. 10, 2015 at 8:33 am
That is a very good argument for this issue. I think cheer leading and dance should be considered the same because they both use music and timing to create a good routine or performance.
Dakota88zxc replied...
Apr. 13, 2015 at 8:05 pm
You are 100% right haha. But actually some dancers prefer to consider dance an art rather than a sport.
Maryk replied...
Apr. 26, 2015 at 8:48 am
But cheer leading and dance are art forms because a lot of timing is involved in each movement. Also when cheer leaders do a routine to music and make a cheer with physical percussion (hand clapping) that right there is an element that right there is the artistic side of cheer leading.It's the same thing color-guards do in the marching band, and why in ballet hand gestures are used to communicate the characters actions from a dying swan, a captured fire bird, and even a tribal society like in Th... (more »)
Jadynk25 replied...
Nov. 3, 2015 at 11:26 am
honestly so impressed by your sheer knowledge and ability to fight this cause with fact and not opinion
izzyz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 23, 2015 at 3:25 am
I fully agree with your opinion
Janaep34 said...
Mar. 8, 2015 at 12:10 pm
Actually two minutes and thirty seconds get your facts straight, boo
shelisse said...
Mar. 4, 2015 at 12:39 pm
when was this article published
Heyyyy1234 replied...
Mar. 8, 2015 at 6:50 am
I know im writing a paper thats due tomorrow and i need the date
batman replied...
May 4, 2015 at 9:33 pm
@Heyyyy1234 just put a random date thats what i do! ☻
Ausin Z. said...
Feb. 26, 2015 at 3:55 pm
I'm in middle school and I play in a band and we play at our football games and we have cheerleaders on the sidelines cheering and people sat its easy but to me it looks really hard.
Maryk replied...
Mar. 4, 2015 at 9:27 am
I'am glad you have such compassion for cheerleaders. It reminds me about how hard color guards work, and yet directors and other ignorant people call them, "the shinny thing". It is very offensive and perpetuates the same stereotypes that cheerleaders are put under. By the way have you seen the show Blast?
Riaaxo said...
Feb. 12, 2015 at 9:17 am
I believe that school cheerleading is not really a competition sport, unless you compete against other school cheerleading teams. Competiton Cheer is called All - Star Cheerleading because there are levels of diffuculty unlike school cheerleader , there are levels 1- 5 in All- Star Cheerleading, the higher level team, the higher the diffuculty. All - Star Cheerleading is done at seperate gyms in cities and towns, not at schools. It is more rigorous than school cheerleading, I am a school cheerle... (more »)
Maryk replied...
Feb. 18, 2015 at 9:25 am
I really agree with you, it's the same situation with marching bands. Too much competition is hurting the creativity, choreography, and individuality of many bands and makes them single-minded and too focused on winning. Any form of art should be appreciated by the public not showed off to a bunch of judges and directors that are part of the single-minded persona that arts should be turned into sports. It cannot happen and it should not be accepted as a norm.
taylor mitchell said...
Feb. 3, 2015 at 9:30 pm
I believe that cheer is a sport but sideline cheer is to entertain, however the definition of sport is a specific diversion, usually involving a physical exercise and having a set form and body of rules. In sideline cheer you still have physical exercise, you have to practice, and you perform during halftime also in school (which is usually sideline cheer) the cheerleaders still compete so wouldn't sideline cheer still be a sport...
Kyleigh2001 said...
Feb. 1, 2015 at 10:11 pm
its actually 2 minutes and thirty seconds not 3 minutes 15 seconds for competitive cheer :) . but yes i am a comptetitive cheerleader and its ridiculous the amount of respect we lack. IT IS A SPORT, AND ANYONE WHO SAYS IT ISNT IS AN IGNORANT NARCASSIT. ;) thanks -Kyleigh, A competitive cheerleader ;P
Maryk replied...
Feb. 5, 2015 at 7:11 am
I disagree, but just because I disagree does not mean I'am a narcissist. I feel the same way about marching bands, that they are more of an artistic endeavor than a sport. If these forms of art become a sport then there is no choreography,creativity,and no individuality in the art form. Cheer leading is very much like the role color-guards play in marching bands or ballerinas in a ballet. Dance is a constantly changing art form but it is not a sport
Nikki2002 said...
Jan. 26, 2015 at 2:39 pm
I agree cheerleading is a sport and it is unfair that some people don't view it that way.It takes effort and determination to be a cheerleader and i think cheerleaders work as hard as any other players in any other sport.
Maryk replied...
Jan. 31, 2015 at 9:06 am
If cheer leading becomes a sport what about ballroom dancing and ballet should they become sports?
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