Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Cheerleading is a Sport This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By


     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 366 comments. Post your own!

ilovecheer said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm:
haha, any idiot who doesnt think its a sport can get their lazy ass out there and do it. how flexible do you have to be to play football? -not very. it requires a lot of leg power to jump. and stunting is very exhausting. cheerleaders throw people in the air.. not a ball. :) so.. grow one and suck it up. hehehe. welllll this stuff only applies if the cheerleaders are good.. crappy ones just look dumb. hahaha.
 
LexieBoo! :D replied...
Mar. 21, 2011 at 10:39 am :
Umm I would like to see yu throw girls over yur head and catch them, Or to be able to do everything with sharp moves and it has to look good, We just dont throw a ball around and run after it or tackle the person with the ball!
 
cheer is amazing(: replied...
May 10, 2011 at 8:26 am :

cheerleading is def. a sport, you don't just throw people in the air, dance, and throw your arms in the air like people think. you actually have to have some sort of muscle. you use leg muscle to jump in the air, tumble ect. Cheerleading is a physical activity i believe... its NOT what everyone thinks it is...

 

 

just saying.

 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Metallxrose said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm:
I do not believe cheerleading is a sport. Any girl can easily 'cheer' for her teammates, like at a volleyball game, just by sitting on the sidelines. Why don't you just do gymnastics then? Cheering can be done by anyone at any age. You don't do anything diffiuclt that with a little practice, any one else can do easily ona  trampoline and such.
 
thecheer1990 replied...
Dec. 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm :
cheer is so a sport we dont just cheer u have to be strong and u have to be the best  
 
blossom replied...
Jan. 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm :
I AGREE CHEERLEADING IS NOT A SPORT
 
LexiLou10 replied...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 11:33 pm :
Hey, just to break it to you... all sports start out at any age. and more often than not, the team sucks when they are that young. Cheerleading isn't JUST about yelling loud for the team. Plus, a trampoline and a hardwood floor are 2 completely different things.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
PirateQueen791 said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 11:27 am:
Excuse me, but if cheerleading is just like gymnastics, then I don't understand why cheerleaders don't just DO gymnastics. Gymnastics is a definite sport, and according to this article it's safer anyway, not to mention that its background doesn't concern the concept that girls are meant to cheer for guys. I could NEVER be a cheerleader (not that I remotely have the personality anyway) for that reason. 
 
LexiLou10 replied...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 11:36 pm :
I was both a gymnast and a cheerleader... and they are quite different. The main similarity is the tumbling skills required. Cheerleaders do what they do for the rush or adrenaline, the accomplishment of learning new stunts. Gymnastics is all for one and one for all. Cheerleading, you have a team to back you up or drag you down.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
cheerleader09 said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 11:19 am:
Okay so first of all if you're going to be rude and talk crap about cheerleading at least spell the word right because all you're doing is making yourself look stupid. Second of all I'm a cheerleader and have been for the past 6 years I know firsthand that cheer is a lot harder than most sports. I’d like to see all the people saying cheer is stupid to go try and lift a 100+ lb. girl in the air and attempt to do the tumbling skills we do. At my high school we have football players... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Crash. said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 6:37 am:
It is a sport physicality but not mentally. You have the work and its hard yes but, the whole reason why is BS and a little rude.  
 
Sarah R. replied...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 7:11 pm :

ok. cheerleading is for sure a sport we don't tumble on trampolines we tumble/cheer on either gym floors or spring mats there's a huge difference and crash thank you for saying physically its a sport but not mentally but it most deffinately is a sport mentally because you can't be scared to do the skills even if you've hurt yourself on them before and you have to rely on your team mates and remember where to go

and Thanks whoever wrote this article sorry I didn't look but I find it gre... (more »)

 
Crash. replied...
Dec. 5, 2010 at 1:49 pm :
I know you have to do them if you got hurt before, I am an athlete. But the whole idea of why seems a little crazy, at least at my school they say "I only do it so the boys will date me." So maybe thats why I feel it is messed up that girls will risk just about anything for a boy.  
 
a8787 replied...
Aug. 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm :
ok first of all you have to be metally strong to be able to throw people in the air and stay there to catch them even if they are going to fall on your face ,you have to trust the people on your team to do the right tjing at the right time and to give 110% everytime even if theyre tired , sore,and if they dont want to be at practice at that time
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
stach171 said...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm:
cheerleading is not a sport. A sport is supost to have a offense and a defense ... whats the offense for cheerleading and whats the defense?
 
123huff replied...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 9:55 pm :
Then whats the offense of defense for track or cross country..many sports if you think about it dont have an offense or defense. boxing and or wrestling really dont have offense and defense either
 
CheerGirl replied...
Dec. 1, 2010 at 11:43 am :

Cheerleading has to be a sport because it takes just as much dedication as most other sports. Also as a squad you have to work as a team and remember the players as called in a SPORT...

 

 
Sarah R. replied...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 7:13 pm :
umm no a sport doesn't have to have an offense and defense not according to Title Nine.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
FCAgems said...
Nov. 29, 2010 at 8:36 am:
Cheerleading is definitely 100 percent a sport. People might not think it is because they watch like highschool cheerleaders or midget league cheerleaders, but competitive, yeah that's a sport. It's on espn, everyone sweats their butts off at practice trying to work as hard as they can, and throwing a 100 lb girl is harder than everyone thinks...every guy and girl needs to get it through their head that cheerleading is definitely a sport...it's much more than jumping around like everyone thinks...
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
cheerleader4eva said...
Nov. 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm:
ok i use to be a gymnast and now i am cheerleader and it is as hard or harder. the people that say it is not a sport are really stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it is a sport!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ok ok!!!!!!! get it through your head
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
cheerleader04 said...
Nov. 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm:
you spelled cheerleading wrong,...
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback