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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This article has 481 comments. Post your own now!

CloutGirl said...
Sept. 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm
What's the difference between cheerleading and competitive cheerleading ? Most people think cheerleading is a sport because it you have to practice in order to get better.
VarsityCheerLWHS replied...
Nov. 5, 2014 at 11:59 pm
Cheer is a school activity usually to support other athletes in a season and competitive cheer is going against other squads showing each suads talents and capabilities.
kinzie3 replied...
Jan. 5, 2015 at 3:01 pm
okay lets get this straight, competive cheerleading- you spend all year prepairing and going to small comopetitions to go to competivive NCA. the hard practices can end badly i have had many concussions and i know many girls who have broke bones and gone to the hospital for injurys resulting in cheer (i do both school cheer and competitive and competitive is harder in my opinion) school cheer- yes the girls will cheer on the side line of football games but they honestly hate it! plus the real w... (more »)
byefelicia said...
Sept. 16, 2014 at 1:16 pm
Most of those who say cheer is not a sport are highly uneducated and unlike those who believe it is a sport, you dont have facts to back up your oppion. Going off of what you see in movies hardly compares to what goes on in reality. Unless you have been in the shoes of a competitive cheerleader or have actual facts to back you up, your oppinion is most likely invalid and should probly be kept to your self.
englotgg said...
Jun. 9, 2014 at 10:50 pm
Just watch smoed 2014 wordls on youtube. then you can come up and tell me tht im not an athlete. But please at least come up with an intelligent reasoning. Btw on of the girls on m cheer team skippe a year we aren't all dumb blondes.
kinzie3 replied...
Jan. 5, 2015 at 3:03 pm
praise the lord! somone understands me! oh and spellcheck!
burnsboy12 said...
May 21, 2014 at 11:53 am
I personally think cheerleading is not a sport.  all you do is dance around in short shirts.  
emeraldcaroline replied...
May 28, 2014 at 10:02 pm
I agree about high school cheerleading, but competitive cheerleading is definitely a sport. 
sunnyflipperhappy replied...
Sept. 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm
agreed this is a very contructive thing
ilovetoeat replied...
Sept. 25, 2014 at 9:53 am
well cheerleading is a very active sport btw... and uh yeah ur probably just sitting around around eating my food!  
sara_xoxo replied...
Nov. 3, 2014 at 10:52 am
Whoever thinks cheerleading isn't a sport can go sit on a cactus. Competive cheerleading is just as hard or even harder than any other sport. We don't "dance" in cause you haven't realized the stunts we do are not considered a dance. Cheerleaders get as hurt as any other althetic and we keep our crap going just as you guys. If you don't consider cheerleading a sport you can kindly go get a reality check.
PianoKeys97 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 19, 2014 at 5:29 pm
Great article! You have very strong details and examples that truly bring through your passionate belief. After reading this, I definitely agree that cheerleading is a sport. It's competitive, gives you exercise, and takes much skill and technique.
L.A.L.Etc said...
May 4, 2014 at 6:25 pm
Cheerleading isn't the most dangerous sport. Out of my own intrest I look it up and there are many differnt websites that have many different opinions on it from their statistics such as horseback-ridding, football, ect. 
kinzie3 replied...
Jan. 5, 2015 at 3:05 pm
okay let me tell you this, i am in cheer and i practice up to 10 hours a day and i go horseback riding on my horse and i have two brothers that play football who will say cheer is very hard. im not saying cheer is harder than footbal but give it a chance because sports are clasafied at one of the most dangerouse contact sports for a reason!
ilovecheer3646 replied...
May 23, 2016 at 11:34 am
right,so l.a.l.etc you can just stfu because cheer is ten times harder than horseback riding,try standing up on a running horse while pulling a scorpion,the stunts we do are ten times harder than that.
smoedbecca said...
Apr. 29, 2014 at 5:31 pm
im sorry but your opinion is wrong:)
cheer is a sport replied...
Jun. 23, 2014 at 12:20 am
jellybean said...
Apr. 8, 2014 at 2:32 pm
i believe that cheerleading is a sport since i was a cheerleader for 9 years (competitive and football/basketball).so i would like to know why you dont think its a sport
kayleyschuitema4 said...
Apr. 2, 2014 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
ravencowles321 replied...
Sept. 11, 2014 at 1:25 pm
you tell em kayley
otter said...
Mar. 18, 2014 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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