Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

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 378 comments. Post your own now!

Soccercutie54321 said...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 9:49 am
How would more recognition as a sport decrease injuries? Where is your evidence?
FuzzyPeach replied...
Dec. 7, 2011 at 2:52 pm
Cheerleading is mainly dangerous because coaches are not required to be CRP or aid certified as coaches for other sports are. Some cheer companies will hire on anyone who wants the job and fail to inform themselves about the safety aspect. then, once a cheerleader falls from trying a full layout the coach wont really have a clue of what to say and just tell them athlete to do it again. If cheerleading were to be made a sport then all coaches would be required to be certified which would in turn ... (more »)
cheerlikenotomorrow replied...
Dec. 7, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Soccercutie54321, and FuzzyPeach,


I was a cheerleader for over 10 years and all of my coaches have HAD to be CPR and first aid certified. With that being said this did not stop any injures from happening, I myself can no longer cheer due to a chronic knee injury from cheerleading. Any coach that tells a cheerleader to simply get up and do it again should not be a coach and there should be at least one athletic trainer for any building that has a sport at it for this reaso... (more »)

RejoiceTheySay... replied...
Dec. 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm
fuzzy peach just your name influenced by old gregg? :p
PinkKitty said...
Nov. 20, 2011 at 9:33 am
I agree completely, cheerleading involves lots of hard work!
ashleymarie replied...
Dec. 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm
cheer lover said...
Nov. 16, 2011 at 7:49 pm
cheerleading is a sport SMART ONES 
ilove2cheer said...
Nov. 14, 2011 at 9:36 am
i have been a cheerleader for my whole life and who ever thinks its not a sport i would like to see you try it it is really hard to do
xocheerforlifexo<3 said...
Nov. 13, 2011 at 9:50 pm
Cheerleading is DEFINETELY A SPORT, and anyone who says that it isn't is a loser. Our high school squad cheers for football, basketball, and we compete in competitions, so if that isn;t a sport, then I don't know what is. I would like to see everyone who says that cheerleading isn't a sport come and do our routine and stunts and get back to me. It is hard, and takes a lot of hard work and dedication. I love this sport with all my heart!!!!!! Cheerleading is amazing:D<3333333333333
male_cheerleader22 said...
Nov. 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm
yes cheerleading is a sport. but i disagree with what Kenziee said and i quote ''no boy could ever do what a cheerleader does..." IM A GUY CHEERLEADER!
xocheerforlifexo<3 replied...
Nov. 13, 2011 at 9:52 pm
I totally agree with you! Guys can cheer just as well as girls! I wish we had a guy or two on our squad, because a lot of them can do some pretty amazing stunts and flips:D
cheerleader1234 replied...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm
Male cheerleaderes are the strength of most collages teams..
Livelovecheer<3 replied...
Mar. 11, 2012 at 8:17 pm
Omg you are epic, male cheerleaders ROCK!!!!
Kenziee said...
Nov. 8, 2011 at 9:58 am
I am a cheerleader and yes it is a sport no boy could ever do what a cheerleader does... they couldt last one pratice. And to all of you that think its not a sport IT IS!! We work our butts if day and day out sooo read the facts then come back!! :D
jcheergirl98 replied...
Nov. 9, 2011 at 11:10 am
omg!!! you are so right. I have cheer'd for most of my life, and it is the hardest thing ever. Cheerleading is my life, and for those who say its not a sport need to go and try it, because they wouldnt last an hour!!! You dont need a ball for it to be considered a sport. Dancing is a sport and so is gymnastics, so put those together, and add amazing stunting, and your good. I am right now on 3 squads, one is my school team, one is a competition squad, and the other is sideline and competition sq... (more »)
cheerlikenotomorrow replied...
Dec. 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm
I was a cheerleader for over 10 years, and say it is a sport, however I know that boys can cheer. when I was in jr. high we had some of the cheerleaders from the high school come down to help us, they work harder then any other cheerleader that I have seen. 
CheerLoVeR said...
Nov. 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm
I don't care that its not concidered a sport because even if it's not concidered a sport officially, The cheerleaders who have made it to the top have ovioulsy worked out butts off getting there (probally why we don't wiegh to much) We also understand that it is very competitive and when i look out into a stand I see 10 times more people at our compititions than i ever do at football games. which must mean we are respected by the people we love and care about. And there are people who respe... (more »)
CheerbbyK said...
Nov. 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm
I don't think he is dumb...just...well idk what to call it, but cheerleading is dangerous. The reason why its hard on the body is because of how we fall. When you fall from a stunt. its like falling from a twenty foot building. It hurts. (Although if the cheerleaders acually did the stuff correctly you wouldn't have to go to a sports doctor for an injury you could have avoided.)
CheerbbyK replied...
Nov. 1, 2011 at 3:15 pm
that was suposed to be posed as a reply
sparkleme said...
Oct. 29, 2011 at 6:21 pm
Hey, I'm a cheerleader and I think it is a sport. We compete, we exercise, and we have teams. We are no different than any other sport. You tell them, girl!
TheIntellectualOne said...
Oct. 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm
it probably isn't recognized as an Official sport because It is one of few sports that the focus is almost completely on women. and men aren't really the ones to get involved with cheering (i can see one now.. trying to fit into the outfit), just as football is all boy (mostly) a sport in which few brave women dare to get involved with. what a bias world, In fact I can't think of any sport that gives all the attention to female atheletes excluding unisex sports. I mean PGA, NBA, NFL, NHS, and na... (more »)
Site Feedback