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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beachychick said...
Dec. 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm
Thank you!!! Cheerleading is very much a sport. We work sometimes 15-16 hours a week and keep up with our grades. We lift and toss people in the air, we dance, jump and tumble for two minutes straight, and we have to stick to all these rules and regulations that make routines very tough.
Cheerleader4life said...
Dec. 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm
cheering is deffintely a sport!! in fact its gonna be in the 2016 olympics. and to get into the olympics it has to be a SPORT right? well then it is. I'd like to see half the people saying it isnt a sport do what we do everyday. oh and btw love this post :)
0DraconianDevil said...
Nov. 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm
I completely agree. I'm in marching band (YES it is a sport) and I have spent a lot of time being annoyed about the fact that people call sideline a sport and not what we do. But competition? That is IMPRESSIVE.
StandoffSteak replied...
Jan. 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm
No offence to you, but marching band is definetelly not a sport. I'd agree that competitive marching is difficult and while not everyone can do it, it is not a sport. More than anything its a competition. The guide lines mentioned above work for defining sports but a rule such as that needs to be flexible. Not a solid thing. When me and my brother hit each other with pool noodles in the pool its testing our abilities against one another. Is it a sport? No. On the topic of the article I think... (more »)
komackatack said...
Oct. 23, 2012 at 12:47 am
no type of cheerleading is a sport, cheerleaders don't even lead cheers, they play dubstep and do some stupid dance between plays. cheering isn't in the olympics for a reason, its not a sport, its a way for non-athletic girls to feel important, like most softball players, there are some softball athletes, however a lot of them are just obese and cant do anything else, if a girl weighs 260 pounds and her only purpose is to hit homeruns then she's no athlete, back to cheer, if cheer is... (more »)
CocoPuff replied...
Jan. 4, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Hey Umm, Cheer is a sport. have you ever fell straight on your head from 6 feet in the air? Or lift a girl compltetly in the air with only your to hands by her feet? We do expended about of training and everything. If your saying cheer isn't a sport because it isn't in the Olympics then neither is football. Football isn't in there. The reason both arnt is because but enough countries do it. A lot of people say cheer is easy... It isn't. I've broken bones, Spraned stuff, Been ... (more »)
throwerforlife replied...
Jan. 17, 2013 at 1:49 am
Wow. You are truly ignorant, and your comments are very disrespectful  to many people. You know that if you don't have anything nice to say then you shouldn't say anything at all. Everyone may be entitled to their own opinion, but you were just being unnecessarily rude.
joeycheer@ATA replied...
Mar. 20, 2013 at 1:55 pm
like the nice hard working girl said, dont run your mouth about something you know nothing about i do allstar cheerleading, i've played basketball, baseball, football and i have never played or loved a sport more than cheerleading, and yes it is by far the hardest sport i have ever played. a couple of months ago a professional football player started teaching at my school adn told asked me what sports i played i told him allstar cheerleading. he said thats a joke and luaghed i told him to go... (more »)
theatregirl This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 12, 2012 at 8:45 pm
I like your resoning. However, if cheerleading is sport, then Theater, Ballet, and Playing should sport. (
Alleenstaande replied...
Jun. 11, 2013 at 7:37 pm
I completely agree with you, I could further that to say that even playing video games is a sport, card games, and even hackie sack. If you'd like to get technical on the opposing side, how is Nascar a sport? I agree that it is, you risk dying in a burning mass of fiberglass and metal. There is rules, competition, and all that fun stuff. What about fencing? Curling? Ping-pong? Thank you for giving me the mental motivation to add onto what you were saying. I hope it helped you explain! :)
DifferentTeen replied...
Jul. 12, 2013 at 6:39 pm
Hahaha, these comments are what I agree with. I do not think cheerleading is a sport. At least, definately not the stuff at football games.
anonymous said...
Oct. 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm
CHEERLEADING IS DEFINITELY A SPORT. IN FACT, IT'S THE MOST DANGEROUS SPORT IN THE WORLD. You throw people in the air and catch them. If you don't that person will be dead. Cheerleading is basically the mix of ballet, gymnastics and dance. It's very complicated. WE MAY LOOK CUTE IN A SKIRT, BUT THIS IS VIOLENT.
mshipley replied...
Mar. 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm
ballet is dance...
cute me! replied...
Apr. 11, 2013 at 5:19 pm
cheerling is the most funnest sport I ever tried if you try it , it will change your life  
cheergirl101 said...
Oct. 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm
i am 16 and have cheered for 10 years cheer is definetley a sport u work and train the same or maybe even harder than any sport u may not play against another team but it is a sport!!!
blarp said...
Sept. 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm
pretty girls/short skirts, i think its a sport
cheer247 said...
Sept. 12, 2012 at 12:39 pm
ok so I have been in my fair share of arguments on this topic. I have competitively cheered for the past 8 years. the body control and discipline it takes to cheer CANNOT be compared to ANY sport. tell me what sport requires your body to be in overdrive for over 3 minutes with no cease. Flipping your body up off the ground that some people could only ever dream of attempting and throwing others 10 feet in the air just to safely catch them again. football players, basketball players etc, work ver... (more »)
VE321 replied...
Apr. 1, 2013 at 10:53 pm
wow that was absolutely beautiful. very true im many ways!
Cheerlious said...
Aug. 31, 2012 at 10:58 am
Cool artical i guess!!!!
Cheerleader_13 said...
Jul. 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm
I have been a cheerleader since i was 7 years old, i can understand how sideline cheering is not a sport. Sideline cheer however does require alot of practice. but its not competing for anything, we're just there to cheer on our team, nothing wrong with sideline cheer not being a sport. as a sideline cheerleader. i feel like i'm an athlete as much as some one who plays football or basketball. I practice almost everyday of the week and i give everything i have to it. me and my teammates are dedic... (more »)
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