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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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SkyeOfLights said...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 5:06 am
I have been arguing with everyone because no one thinks that cheerleading is a sport. It definitely is. Although, I don't agree with you on the fact that sideline cheering isn't a sport. My team is only sideline, but we still learn dances, we tumble and stunt, and we work just as hard as competition teams. I don't think that this should be ruled out as a sport just because we don't compete against someone else. We still do every bit as much as competition teams and put as much work into it.
SkyeOfLights replied...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm
I agree that it is not as hard as competitive cheerleading, but we work just as hard. We have a million practices and do the same stunts that our competition team does, because we want to make our sideline cheering count just as much. Just because we aren't scored by judges doesn't mean that we don't work hard too.
Cheerbbyk replied...
Jan. 27, 2012 at 5:38 am
it is not a sport because you are not playing agenst anyone. you are just doing sideline for yourself. sideline cheerleaders are athleates because they work just as hard as competitive sometimes, but it isn't a sport because there is no clear oponate
maizyiscrazy replied...
Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm
Swimming is a sport. Dancing is a sport. Running is a sport. If you're doing a marathon, you're not trying to beat anyone but yourself. Just because people wear short skirts while cheering doesn't make it a stereotypical girl past time. It is a work out, involving sweat, training and pain, just like any other sport.
Cheersmylife said...
Jan. 19, 2012 at 10:54 pm
Okay,CHEERLEADING IS A SPORT. Ive been cheering for 3 years now. It's so very difficult. I've had many injuries,broken bones,and many peoplenhave gone to the hospital and got paralyzed or even killed for just trying to do a stunt or flip. People risk their lives everyday fighting gravity and cheerleading!! And I like how all the People who say it isn't a sport are wimpy kids that have never tried it before. Dang,try it beofore you judge it. K thanks bye
gg123 replied...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm
i agree completly
fruitsbasketFREAK replied...
Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:41 am
RIGHT!  You tell them!
raiderxtremeallstars said...
Jan. 19, 2012 at 10:20 am
i've been a competitive cheerleader since i was 4 i hate that people say that its not a sport but whatever floats your know?
Cheer!:) said...
Jan. 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm
Cheer is a sport. You can't just put on a skirt and say oh yeah im a cheer leader. No you have to train! Hard core training were you can get hurt. Im not saying cheer is a sport becuz you can get hurt. I am saying its a sport becuz its hard work! Now if you don't think it is then you shouldn't have even read the thing. Go try cheer and then tell me how it goes. And if you think its still not a sport then your at a lose. xP Cheer is peoples life. its my life and when people dis it like you did it... (more »)
please go away replied...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 11:13 am
no its not
Emogirl123 replied...
Jan. 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm
I totally agree with u
cheerbuddy replied...
Jan. 27, 2012 at 5:40 am
acually peoople can just put on a skirt and say they are a cheerleader. people do it for halloween all the time. and ive seen some crappy teams out there that make me wonder if they train at all.
AndriaStar replied...
Apr. 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm
Exactly! 'I can rhyme and dance at the same time!'
Sarah_H said...
Jan. 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm
This is a great piece! I am a dancer, but I was also a Varsity Cheerleader at my high school Freshman Year. Our team cheered at every football and basketball game, and attended three competitions. We practiced from June until March, as well. You did a great job explaining how demanding it is, and how alike it is to any other sport. I appreciate your support! Great writing too! :)
Connor Hauenstein replied...
Jan. 7, 2012 at 9:19 pm
im a varsity cheerleader as a freshman to :D
Sarah_H replied...
Jan. 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm
Yay Connor! I hope you're enjoying it!!!
kaylarocks replied...
Apr. 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm
Cheerleading Actually is A Sport, No matter what football basketbal (ect.) players say! I personally play volleyball but i have to admit...when i practice volleyball, im playing by myself right? well there and then i have no opponenet so does that automatically make volleyball not a sport? NOOO! ONE of the main purposes is for a sport is for entertainment right?(Atleast in America) Well thats what cheerleading does so, uh YES cheerleading IS  a Sportt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
dirty harry said...
Jan. 3, 2012 at 1:23 pm
cheer leading is not a sport anybody can cheer a team on just cuz you put on a uniform and practice doesnt make you a sport
Connor hauenstein replied...
Jan. 7, 2012 at 9:15 pm
hey im a male cheer leader at my high school my team is competative and also we cheer at games but either way its a sport u compete for a trophy so therefor its a sport. um i hate the dispute over this topic it take skill to be a cheer leader and alot of strength to stunt, i love this saying it goes like this "athletes lift weights Cheer leaders lift atheletes"..
cajp replied...
Feb. 23, 2012 at 3:42 pm cheerleading is a sport
RejoiceTheySay... said...
Dec. 24, 2011 at 2:17 pm
why do you assume theres only cheerleading in America?
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