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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 376 comments. Post your own!

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
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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.
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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's much more than jumping around like everyone thinks...
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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
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cheerleader04 said...
Nov. 23, 2010 at 1:42 pm:
you spelled cheerleading wrong,...
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LiLK33kz said...
Nov. 23, 2010 at 1:33 pm:
for anyones info that is not a cheerleader, you really cannot speak. i was a cheerleader for 7yrs co-captin for 2yrs and my final year i was captin. even in 8th grade i was a cheerleader and some girls didnt even know what it was until i stepped up to say what it was. now i do danceline and as the term "sport" is defined cheerleading is all that. i don't what people don't see in cheerleading its a difference between competition and sidelining. but both are still competitive. so if... (more »)
CarleenCat replied...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm :
Gurl u r not cute or kewl i have been a cheerleader for 7-12 grade now and i know more stuff then u im cheering for the dallas cowboys and its awesome.
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meynard7 said...
Nov. 14, 2010 at 11:29 am:
I do cheerleading and we are a competive cheer squad.We work just as hard as any other sport.All the things we are required to do takes a lot of strengh and physical ability.Theres no reason why cheering is not considered a sport.
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iCheer said...
Nov. 11, 2010 at 12:55 pm:
Obviously you don't know anything about sports or cheerleading then:)
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cheer4lifee said...
Nov. 11, 2010 at 11:32 am:
ok i am a cheerleader and it is a sport
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heatlebron6 said...
Nov. 11, 2010 at 8:43 am:
I think cheerleading should never be a sport and I think that sheerleading is never going to be a sport.
shammie!!!999 replied...
Mar. 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm :
i think its a sport too cause with all the flipping and everything its kinda back breaking work so yeah i do think its a sport;)
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cheerbaby13' said...
Nov. 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm:
i have been apart of many different sports and cheer is the only one that requires more atheticism and you can always improve and the little things matter cheerleaders are ahhhmazing
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cheerislife said...
Oct. 12, 2010 at 9:50 am:
excuse me people who apparently dont cheer!!! I play soccer and run track and do cheerleading. I sweat just as much cheering as i do in track..i get more bruises and bumps from cheer then i do soccer....if its soo easy and not a sport..stop talking and you get out there with us!!! -thanks(: ( all cheerleaders are amazing!!
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liv2cheer3 said...
Oct. 5, 2010 at 3:50 pm:
Ok heres what i think that if people think we(cheerleaders) r just"flirts in scurits" then thay get out there in 2min and 30 sec and flip fly base and toss!
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