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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This article has 482 comments. Post your own now!

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 »)
Danielle H. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm
I'm not a cheerleader, by no means. My sport happens to be softball. But I have friends that are sideline cheerleaders, and they put just as much effort into cheerleading as I do with softball. Keep telling yourself it's a sport, because it very much is. No matter what people say.
riley21 replied...
Mar. 21, 2013 at 6:42 pm
I've been "sideline cheerleading" since i was in third grade, and i completely agree :)
Cheer_Diva said...
Jun. 27, 2012 at 12:27 am
Look, I do both competitive cheer and normal cheerleading. And I have to admit. Cheerleading is NOT a sport. You can believe it is. I do. It is not officially considered a sport although it should be. It meets all the things that it needs to be a sport. But it was never declared as a sport. Although, cheerleaders ARE athletes. No Hate
peyton99 replied...
Oct. 18, 2012 at 11:28 am
i truly belive that cheer is a sport and it should be a sport
throwerforlife replied...
Jan. 17, 2013 at 1:58 am
Cheer_Diva: you say cheerleaders are athletes, and athletes do sports, yet you still say cheerleading isn't a sport. I don't understand what you're trying to convey. Another thing--a physical activity isn't only a sport if it's recognized as one. Dance, for example, is an art form, but also a sport. It takes years of training to perfect a style of dance, and they are very fit. So yes, dance is a sport. If poker can be a sport (I despise this fact), then cheerleading, and actu... (more »)
walkergirl101 said...
Jun. 7, 2012 at 2:13 pm

When I think of sports I think of players or teams playing against the other to win points or scores of some sort. 

Although To cheerlead requires training in cardiovascular, flexibility and muscular fitness, regular cheerleading is simply encouraging their school team. But again the training before cheerleading is like any other sport because it helps one to become physically active.

Now as for competitive cheerleading, I see that that as a sport. 

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??
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