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.

Join the Discussion

This article has 473 comments. Post your own now!

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.  
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 »)
Phoenix replied...
Apr. 26, 2014 at 9:45 pm
In all due respect, Otter, I beg to differ. I'm currently writing a paper on this topic, so while I don't claim to be an expert, I have done my research. A 'sport' is not defined on the basis of whether winners can be determined objectively. The definition provided by the Women's Sports Foundation, which is a generally accepted definition, and one of the most specific, classifies a sport as: * A physical activity which involves propelling a mass through space or overcom... (more »)
Bad_at_Usernames replied...
May 20, 2014 at 3:55 pm
That would imply anything that is judged is not a sport so... Gymnastics, surfing, any martial art, synchronized swimming, and technically wrestling?  
xonikkitayor said...
Mar. 14, 2014 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.
Briana_Quintiliano said...
Feb. 13, 2014 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 »)
Keenan22 said...
Feb. 11, 2014 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 »)
cheer101 said...
Jan. 28, 2014 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 »)
trini342 said...
Jan. 20, 2014 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.
Kaho said...
Jan. 13, 2014 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.  
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback