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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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?
Cheeerfreak1232 replied...
Mar. 2, 2012 at 10:28 am
uhm, cheerleading isnt only in America.. they have teams in japan, australia, china, costa rice, and all voer south america and mexico. Search " The cheerleading worlds" and see how many teams are in the United states and how many are from around the world. i personally took a picture with the team from Mexico and the team from Bancock at the 2011 cheer worlds. So you're wrong. And for everyone saying this is not a sport. i dare you. dare. you. to try this for a week. not a day. not one practice... (more »)
kyleemichele97 replied...
Apr. 16, 2012 at 8:58 pm
I love you. You rock.
tryitfirst replied...
May 9, 2012 at 7:43 pm

gotta check out thailands team!


Santa said...
Dec. 20, 2011 at 9:58 am
i love to cheerlead. 
loudsilence said...
Dec. 15, 2011 at 7:22 pm
Cheerleading is definately a sport. Cheerleading truly requires a lot of hard work. I used to not believe that cheerleading was a sport because I thought that all that it required was waving pom-poms in the air. Once I saw competitive cheerleading, I realized that it required a lot more physical activity and practice than I realized.
JessJess96 said...
Dec. 15, 2011 at 6:16 pm
I'd have to agree with you. This is indeed a sport! A dangerous one at that, and I'm speaking from experience from a failed lift in 6th grade where I was the spotter.. :/
inspir3d This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm


It's sad how politically correct everything is these days. i agree with you that competition cheerleading is a sport,  but if you have to put the word COMPETITION in front of it...well...

Competition laundry folding, anyone?


RejoiceTheySay... replied...
Dec. 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm
haha! thank you!!
Josiejoee said...
Dec. 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm
I'm a cheerleader at my school on the competitive squad it's my first year and it's actually really hard instead of lifting normal 50 pound weights you life 100 pound living people...
emilyawards said...
Dec. 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

People SUCK at this arguement!

Get to the point. What makes a sport? A competition between two or more teams, a set of rules, and athletic activity.

Therefore, there is NO possible way cheerleading can't be considered a sport. End of argument.

Also, to you amazingly conceited gymnasts who spend hours trying to belittle cheerleaders, SHUT UP. Just, shut up, really. Gymnastics and cheerleading are NOT the same thing, NO ONE ever brings this up except for those certain stuck... (more »)

Cheersmylife. replied...
Jan. 19, 2012 at 10:44 pm
I'm a cheerleader and it's a hard sport. K thanks bye.
zane loves ashlynn said...
Dec. 7, 2011 at 10:23 am
agreeeeed really hard lots of work
1213 replied...
Jan. 4, 2012 at 9:46 pm
I think that cheerleading is a sport but my parents think that it's just mean girls shakin they're butts, but instead of shakin their butt they are workin tier butts off to stay good cheerleaders I have been trying to be a cheerleader for 11 years but my parents no matter what I say to them they will not let me be a cheerleader.
Cheersmylife replied...
Jan. 19, 2012 at 10:46 pm
:( that really upsets me. Cheerleading is a very very tough sport! And I'm very sorry your parent feel that way. Keep trying! :)
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 »)
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