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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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AndriaStar said...
Apr. 22, 2012 at 4:55 pm
Cheerleading is not a sport. It's based on opinions, not scores and points. Judges tell wether it's good or not. Yeah, you have to be fit and flexible, but still, you don't have contact with other teams.
KVBraund replied...
Jul. 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm

It's quite simple really. Not all 'sports' require direct competition to be considered a sport, take gymnastics for example.


As for your second point.. erm have you seen cheerleaders abs, biceps and core strength? Needless to say, cheerleading would prepare you for the army for more than any other female sport. Not to mention the pain - trust me, we go through a lot of it. We're used to it, not prissy jerks.

loveforcheer replied...
Aug. 1, 2012 at 8:31 am
Just because it's based on opinions, doesn't mean it's less of a sport. Gymnastics and diving is based on opinions and yet it's a sport. Cheerleaders may not have contact with other teams, but you know what they have a lot of contact with one another, especially when they toss people up in the air. Look up "Basket Toss" on Youtube, try doing it with your friends and maybe you will think otherwise.
CheerDramagirl88 replied...
Sept. 11, 2012 at 2:21 pm
FYI AndriaStar Cheerleading score ARE based on points, not just opinion! Did you read the article at all?? The routine's jumps, stunts, tumbling and cheers are rated on scales of either 1-10 or 1-5(it all depends), and how each of those things are preformed is how they are rated. If someone falls from a stunt, the score for that set of stuntsis lowered. That doesn't sound like opinion to me! And so what if you don't have contact with other... (more »)
Blondegirl:) said...
Apr. 14, 2012 at 11:17 am
I have grown up being a cheerleader, but i did not compete in a cheerleading competition until my sophomore year (this year).  Let me tell you, we worked hard like practicing everyday of the week & added a competition every weekend for a little over a month. It was crazy, the first time you stand behind those curtains & get a huge knot in your stomach... & the girls i cheered with that have been doing it since jr high still got that feeling. You have 3 minutes to go out the... (more »)
CautionwetPaint said...
Mar. 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm
Dude I can totally relate. So many people say horseback riding isn't a sport, just like cheerleading (competitive), and it annoys me so much. Just because I can't throw, or kick, or hit a ball doesn't make me less of an athlete, really people. I can also totally relate to the whole injury thing, except the only difference is that I can wear a helmet, and you guys can't. 
Sportgirl123 replied...
Oct. 27, 2013 at 9:59 pm
Horse back ridding is not a sport! You don't have to be an athlete to ride the horse better then the guy next to you! It's a disgrace that horse ridding is in the Olympics and softball is not. They even took out wrestling and left that in over wrestling. On the note of cheerleader... Lets all admit to the average person cheerleaders are somewhat annoying but those who do compete at a higher level, that can be called a sport. High school cheer is not a sport. Point blank. Just because you can't b... (more »)
Writer_Jordan said...
Mar. 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm
Oh, please. I play volleyball, and sideline cheerleading is not a sport. Competitive, however, is a different story. Competitive is more similar to gymnastics--definently a sport.
volleybal/cheergirl replied...
May 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm
tell me why cheerleading isnt a sport because the meaning of sport is.. activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or like to see you do flips and tricks. ok,if cheer isnt a sport why is it on espn!
nowinthecloudswith replied...
Sept. 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm
....Volleybal/cheergirl, you do realize that this person agrees with you right? By the dictionary definition of a "sport," (what you said in your post), competetive cheerleading is a sport. Writer_Jordan agrees. However, sideline cheerleading is obviously not. Why? Quite simply, its because the cheerleaders arent competing against anyone. The competition is going on in the game (football, basketball, volleyball ect.) The cheerleaders lead the crowd in cheering. If sideline cheerleading... (more »)
Leaves This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm
Volleybal/cheergirl um, the national spelling bee is on espn too. Otherwise, I agree that competitive cheer is a sport.
LiveloveCHEER! said...
Mar. 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm
Cheer is a sport, whether it is SIDELINE or COMPETITIVE. Cheering on the sidelines for like a school is not about the crowd. Its about the PLAYERS! we hype them up and encourage them! and some sideline cheerers also go to like 1-3 competitions throughout the season, so we are doing a sport! Its VERY hard and sideline ceerers do halftime too! So we DO flips and stunts, we just dont REQUIRE you to do arials and backhandsprings! anyone can CHEER!!
AndriaStar replied...
Apr. 22, 2012 at 4:56 pm
Cheerleaders make the crowd hate games. With all the stupid jumping around and chanting, it's sickening.
Leazia replied...
Jun. 25, 2012 at 9:31 am
Thats on opinion. Sorry but you can't speak for everyone/
Boring replied...
Sept. 10, 2012 at 9:58 pm
Everybody at my school hates the cheerleaders. Not because they are popular (they are in fact very unattractive and unpopular) but because they are annoying and quite bad. Half the team is made up of middle school girls who look garish wearing too much makeup. Somehow our team did very well in the national cheerleading competition last year (in the non tumbling division). Even after they won the whole school either ignored it or treated it as a joke.
PoetryAngel14 said...
Mar. 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm
I'm not saying cheerleading isn't a sport, but to all of the people who are saying "try it and you'll see how hard it is" or whatever- don't bring difficulty into this. at all. because life is difficult. it doesn't make it a sport.
torithrock said...
Mar. 23, 2012 at 10:47 am
You have to finish the routine in 2 minutes and 30 seconds, not 3 minutes and 15 seconds.
bumblee23 replied...
Apr. 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm
it can be 3 min 15 seconds and just cause you hate cheer you dont have to be all rude were not all mean ur probably meanier than a lot of cheerleader 
cimfamlove4ever said...
Mar. 23, 2012 at 12:55 am
I heard someone say if it's on ESPN it's a sport and cheerleading competitions are on ESPN so it's a sport. My best friend is a cheerleader i've seen how hard she works and i've seen the cheerleaders at my school practicing and it seems like it's a pretty tough sport
girl said...
Mar. 15, 2012 at 5:33 pm

why doesnt track and field have cheerleadres


Kelcheers replied...
Jul. 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm

What would we say?

"R-U-N! Run around that track again!"

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