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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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 »)
Tenwyg replied...
Aug. 24, 2011 at 9:09 pm
And guys too for cheerleading. Sorry, forgot about them, but they always help! :p
marissa87 replied...
Aug. 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm
i get where you are coming from and i think that competetive cheerleading is a sport but what i dont think you understand and i think that it was partially my fault was my wording. in my opinion i think dance has a little more edge then cheerleading does in physical fitness, but i am not saying that it isnt a sport. Also dance started out as a guys sport ballet was made for guys eventhough now it isnt as male dominate girls had to fight to get into the sport too. Just wanted to make that po... (more »)
Tenwyg replied...
Aug. 25, 2011 at 4:10 pm
Good. That was my only point. I do agree with you about dancing, I just didn't like the way you put cheerleading down, (because as stated in earlier comment, cheerleaders are human and they deserve repsect like anyone else, plus dance doesn't NEED to have something else put down for it to be raised up) but that was just your odd wording, so nevermind... XD
marissa87 replied...
Aug. 26, 2011 at 3:52 pm
good!! yay haha
TribeCheer55 replied...
Oct. 14, 2011 at 9:37 am
Tenwyg, i couldn't agreee more. I have soo much respect for you. Well saaid.
CheerbbyK replied...
Nov. 2, 2011 at 4:17 pm
Dancers make great cheerleaders bc they do simmular stuff cheerleaders do. Im a cheerleader and starting the second week of november  I'm in practice 3-4 hours until march. usually i would have until the end of may til it starts up but this year i'm going to be trying to keep up with two diffrent cheer teams (april) and (may) im sure i'd make the teams no problems.
Nov. 7, 2011 at 6:37 pm
this is soooo dumb. Ive been doing cheerleading almost my whole life, and your telling me its not a SPORT? go to WORLDs, or even a state competition. seriously or a high school one even!! why are they called COMPETITIONS if its not a sport?! i want to take you people and make you lift a 100 pound girl above your head and hold her there, or maybe do a round off back handspring back tuck 34652874 times just to make sure it is absolutly FLAWLESS!? or how about do a whole reutin infront of judg... (more »)
Don't_Kid_Yourself said...
Aug. 3, 2011 at 9:32 am
And why can't you wear some protective gear, huh? Not wearing anything doesn't make you brave and admirable. Injuries don't make a sport. You said it yourself, it gets the most injuries. But does that mean anything other than that you're frequently injured?
bhender14 replied...
Sept. 28, 2011 at 11:20 am
cheerleading is harder than any other sport and you dont know the first thing about it
Dont_Kid_Yourself replied...
Sept. 29, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I wasn't attacking cheerleading, I was asking why you're so proud you get injured the most. That fact in particular shouldn't be used to back up your writing. I can also injure myself by jumping on a pogo stick, or doing flips on a trampoline, but that fact in particular doesn't make it a sport. I hope that makes sense.

In the future, you (bhender14) can make statements that are true. You have no ground to stand on for either of your "defenses". Unless of course you have competi... (more »)

bhender14 replied...
Sept. 29, 2011 at 10:43 pm

i have done quite a few sports and none of them are as hard as cheerleading. cool that you can get hurt jumping on a pogo stick or whatever. its a fact that cheerleading has the most injuries im not saying i am proud that i can get hurt, i know other sports are dangerous my sister fractured her knee playing soccer.

it is just a harder sport in general.

(i dont care what you have to say so you dont have to reply)



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