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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laurenmay123 said...
May 14, 2012 at 6:15 pm
Competetive cheerleading's a sport; any other kind of cheerleading's not. It's that simple.
ScreenName2014 said...
May 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm

My sister is a competitive cheerleader and no one knows how hard they work more than her and I. She practices 4 days a week during the school week and in the summer shes at a competition every weekend and training constantly. Thanks for bringing this subject to light, because people should be able to distinguish between side line cheerleaders, and the true athletes.


Elainapcb said...
May 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm

AndriaStar why are you even posting, obviously your negative opinion does not matter. Cheerleading is a sport and if you dont like it dont cheer or read articles about cheerleading. Thanks!


tryitfirst said...
May 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm
basketball, keep you're opinion. every one has that! basic human right! but being close minded isnt a good thing... go and compeet... then come talk to us.
tryitfirst said...
May 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm
cheerleading was started with men in the 1880's, and plenty of guys cheer. they're needed to bases and to tumble. and so you know, they get their own uniforms! (what? they dont wear skirts?)
tryitfirst said...
May 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm

i dunno guys... i hear its a sport... :D gotta be active to fold the laundry! 


tryitfirst said...
May 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm
but can you do it while stunting, tumbling, (canyou even do that?) and doing a good toetouch?
tryitfirst said...
May 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm

they don't only cheer for the games... and if so many people hated it, why would there be so many cheerleaders world wide?


ryan770 said...
May 1, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Cheerleading is not a sport, but hear me out on this before you get all up in arms.  Cheerleading is, no doubt, a difficult activity, but that in itself doesn't make it a sport.  If we're going by the definition provided in your post, then it would be considered a sport.  However, note the source of that definition: a CHEERLEADING organization.  There will no doubt be bias there.  

So why isn't it a sport?  Simple.  The outcome rides on the opinions o... (more »)

cheer/volleyballgirl replied...
May 28, 2012 at 12:29 pm
Cheerleading is in fact a sport because could you do flips or jumps like that. the definition of sport is  activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others. You tell me did that change your mind.?
Leazia replied...
Jun. 25, 2012 at 9:29 am
What part of cheerleading doesn't make it a sport. Girls work themselves like crazy to please the judges and fans. If we combine different sports into cheerleading why cant it be a sport??
jp87 replied...
Jul. 11, 2012 at 1:50 pm
Ryan you're definition of a sport based on the point scoring system it uses is flawed. Cheerleading (much like gymnastics, diving and many others) is scored by a judge but the score that is given is not as subjective as people seem to think. These sports are marked on a very strict system which awards for execution and skill lever etc. The points and deductions are standardized and skills and moves are given numerical values in terms of difficulty. Thus saying that a different panel would produc... (more »)
addison replied...
Jul. 16, 2012 at 9:29 am
technically by your logic gymnastics wouldnt me a sport then..
Kelcheers replied...
Jul. 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm
Gymnastics and ice skating are also scored by a panel of judges, and they're Olympic sports! Just because your favorite sport is based on a ball going through a hoop or crossing over a line doesn't mean every sport must be that way.
loveforcheer replied...
Aug. 1, 2012 at 8:26 am
It's like gymnastics and diving. They're sports and yet the score is not based on concrete events. And yet, they're sports and are in the olympics. I don't understand why you need concrete events to consider an activity as intense as cheerleading, a sport.
Arimina K. said...
Apr. 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm
Cheerleading is a sport. If it isn't a sport, then please explain to me, why is it in ESPN? Huh? Why? You tell me that, all right. Us cheerleaders work as hard as any other athelete. Not only do you have to be flexible and strong, you also need to have good memory in memorizing the routines. Explain that to me if you disagree.
christianp replied...
May 21, 2012 at 4:26 pm
its obvious its not a sport, any guy will say its not and you CHEER for other teams! if you are talking about Allstar then yes possibly but cheerleading is not a sport and the american government says its not
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.
AndriaStar replied...
Apr. 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm
Try the army. Are you gonna say army is a sport? It's WAY more of a sport than cheerleading. Other sports would actually prepare you for the army. Cheerleading would just make you a little skinny and prissy jerk.
szcheer replied...
May 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm
cheerleading is a sport. I have done many sports and cheerleading has been the hardest one out of all of them. Competitive cheerleading is as hard, and tyering as any sport. You have to be strong and fit, and before you get out on that competition floor, you feel as if you' rather die than go out there and risk the chance of messing up. Cheerleading is the number one sport that leads to concusions. Now if that doesnt prove that cheerleading is a sport then i dont know what will. I am a competiti... (more »)
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