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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Freedom.ThroughPens This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 15, 2011 at 12:58 pm
This is interesting because a few weeks ago, I came out with an article that said "cheerleading is not a sport." I may disagree with you on your overall point, but you nicely articulated your thoughts.
Cheerrocks89 replied...
Sept. 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm
I am a cheerleader and it takes a lot of work to do all the stunts and tumbling and jumps. Have you ever done cheerleading? its a lot of work and it takes a lot of confadence!!!
Cheerbbyk replied...
Nov. 2, 2011 at 4:09 pm
I'd like to read that paper. Im doing a reasch paper on y people think it isn't a sport.
jcheergirl98 replied...
Nov. 9, 2011 at 11:14 am
thank you.  The reason im reading this is because im actually doin a paper, too for why it should be considered a sport, hah funny beacue im only 12, and your probably older than me and were doin the same research...haha lol bye :P
Freedom.ThroughPens This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm
If you were referring to me, the article I wrote should be located on my profile.
soldout said...
Aug. 25, 2011 at 4:44 pm
This is an interesting essay because honestly, I wouldn't immediately label "cheerleading" a sport, you know? But then I got a new perspective on how cheerleading has so many dimensions to it. I'm with you for the cheerleading in the olympics idea. It's not fair when cheerleaders that put extraordinary effort into their routines, only to be teased for participating in something so "useless". Isn't it similar to gymnastics though? And I don't think they'd call THAT useless. I think one day... (more »)
rashima said...
Aug. 25, 2011 at 10:23 am
Cheerleading is cheerleading which is a  performing art to  entertain with all the possible acrobatics, dance, and sport.
SydnieMcC said...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 9:32 pm
I think it's well written and you can definitely classify cheerleading as a sport, but I wouldn't use the definition of "sport" to do so because competative theatre also falls under that category according to the definition and that certainly isn't a sport. 
marissa87 said...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 3:27 pm
i must say i am not a cheerleader, but inm some cases i belive tht it is a sport and other wise i dont. when you go to competetions i believe it is a sport but school cheerleading and sports team cheerleading is not a sport. yes you guys do put out a lot of physical activity but i dont think tht it is a sport at all cause you guys are just yelling about goooo teeaammm and failing your legs in the air showing everyone how flexible you are. Sorry if this bothers anyone but that is just my opi... (more »)
kara (: said...
Aug. 18, 2011 at 3:48 pm
cheerleading is a sport! im an all- atar cheerleader and im tired of people telling me that my sport isnt even a sport. cheerleading IS the most dangerous sport ( my docter even says so) 
charlie123456 replied...
Sept. 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm
Incorrect spelling is also dangerous.
cheeringstarkid said...
Aug. 6, 2011 at 4:13 pm
Yeah, competitive cheerleading  is definitely a sport. but i'd actually prefer that it not be recognized, because if it is then we can't do an all-star team and a school team. which many girls do.
Catiestar said...
Aug. 6, 2011 at 1:01 am
I know it's only your oppinion, and I'm not trying to be disrespectful, but I wouldn't say cheerleading is geared toward self-obsorbed girls. My best friend cheers competitively and she is the most shy girl I've ever met, and the least self-obsorbed person around. Careful with your generalizations. She'd really be hurt by something like that.
rashima said...
Aug. 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm
Cheerleading is a kind of dance, sport and acrobatic art as well. 
marissa87 replied...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 3:28 pm
dance is much more challenging. NO OFFENSE!
Tenwyg replied...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Are you kidding?! I am just going to say that I am a soccer player, so I have no bias, but competitive cheerleading is incredibly difficult and takes skill from gymnastics and dance and puts them into a team situation. It is definitely a sport and if you want proof, go to the national competition at Disney Word. I was there for a soccer tournament and I got to see them practice and they were amazing. Completely changed my view of cheerleaders from the pathetic flirts on the sidelines, to the ... (more »)

ExplicitRainstorms replied...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 5:34 pm
Tenwyg, I respect you so much. You are incredibly correct and proved your point flawlessly. (and I agree)
marissa87 replied...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 8:09 pm
Just as a point. i watched the disney world thing too and yes they are athletic but having a sister who dances 7 days a week for over two hours i know that dancing is much more challenging then cheerleading. i am not saying that it isnt a sport because competetivly it is. o and buy the way you dont have to explain those things to me i play travel soccer. anyway that is my opinioin you dont have to like it but that is what it is. Just saying.
marissa87 replied...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 8:17 pm
No i am not kidding. I saw the disney world competetion on my television and yes it looked athletically challenging but i think, from having a sister who dances 7 days a week for over two hours a week i know how physicaly challenging it is. also i play travel soccer so you dont need to tell me all that stuff i know about it. Also i agree that competetive cheerleading is a sport but i dont think it is as challenging as dance. im sorry it my opinion. Also you say they have to be gymnastics  t... (more »)
Tenwyg replied...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 8:59 pm
Look, you're making it sound like you want to prove that one sport is better than the other sport. But what I am saying is that a sport is what you put into it, its what you make it. Your sister sounds like an amazing person and dance is an incredible sport, but that doesn't need to mean that just because your sister works hard at something she loves that a cheerleader may not work eiththe same effort at what she loves. If anything, I would think you would understand where a cheerleader is comin... (more »)
Tenwyg replied...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 9:06 pm
If cheerleading is not 'acceptable as a sport, than at least cheerleaders should be accepted as people, because they have had to fight to get where competitive cheerleading has gone now. Plus, if you think about it, these girls and women are shaping the future of cheerleading, just the same way women have carved out their place in sports previously. Remember before the 1997 women's world cup for soccer? It wasn't respectable or accepted that girls play soccer, let alone any team sport. Mia Hamm,... (more »)
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