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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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racheyyy said...
Mar. 28, 2011 at 11:20 am
cheerleading is a sport cause i say so cause im a cheerleder
carmooo replied...
Mar. 28, 2011 at 11:22 am
watever u r such a liar
cheerfreakIE replied...
Apr. 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm
i would like to see you lift up a person and do a bunch of flips on the GROUND!
cheer4life replied...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 11:18 am
Anybody out there bashing competitive cheer is just pain uneducated.... Obviously they havent put someone up before or been up in the air. its deff a sport. picking someone up and throwing them 15 feet in the air is as PHYSICAL as it can get.
12345mj replied...
May 16, 2011 at 12:51 pm
If you want to call people uneducated you should probably learn how to spell "plain"...
Live.Love.Cheer said...
Mar. 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm
Competitive cheer is amazing. I am an Allstar cheerleader and its really hard work and takes stregth, dedication, and skill
CheerLeader!! said...
Mar. 25, 2011 at 11:11 am
I completely agree with this article!  My school cheer squad competes and have won 1st in state before and this year we got 2nd.  It is most definately a sport and anyone who disagrees needs to understand why they are wong.
MusicLuvsUs said...
Mar. 23, 2011 at 11:26 pm
I completely agree. If it requires a skill, then it's a sport! :)
PerfectMGymnast This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 23, 2011 at 9:58 pm
i totally agree! you worded this so well!! :) and gymnastics is a sport too!!
LexieBoo said...
Mar. 21, 2011 at 10:45 am
If yur Grandma can throw a girl up over her head or hold girls over her head, Call me because I would like to see that. It takes strength and percison like any other sport!
LexiLou10 said...
Mar. 9, 2011 at 11:24 pm
Well, I was a cheerleader. And yes I believe it is a sport. I'm pretty sure every cheerleader does. But I have to say sideline cheerleading is not a sport... competitive cheerleading is. But as many cheerleaders will tell you... the cheering we do at games is like a practice of sorts to us. The competition is where it's at. [:
imtjustamerx3a said...
Feb. 15, 2011 at 9:22 am
I completely agree with the fact that competitive cheerleading is a sport. I HATE when girls on just high school cheerleading teams think it is an actual sport. How can a sport be cheering for a sport? It doesn't make any sense to me. I'm glad this was a topic that was written about knowing the frustration I have with this topic. I do agree with you and back you up 100%!
sdfsdfsdf replied...
Feb. 18, 2011 at 9:46 am
it is a sport? you go out there & learn all the cheers, &moves...then you can say its not a sport, k? thanks(:
class2012 replied...
Feb. 20, 2011 at 6:58 pm


we workout, train, practice, and its alot of hard work, maybe in your school the cheerleaders are Bull. but at my school WE ARE A SPORT. there is more then 30 of us and we are at the top of are game if u went out there and did what we do u will see.

it may not be a sport that you do but its a sport that ALOT of girls do.

and i been doing it for a long time, HS, and in ALL STAIR

ITS A SPORT U GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

imtjustamerx3a replied...
Mar. 23, 2011 at 8:59 am
do you actually compete against other cheerleading teams? or do you just stand on the sidelines at a football or basketball games and jump up and down obnoxiously? I will agree in the fact that some high school cheerleading teams can be competitive but only if they COMPETE. if you just workout, train, practice, and think it's "hardwork" does not give me enough proof to know that it can be labeled "competitive." think about all the sports teams that actually go out there and challenge other teams... (more »)
mykindaparty replied...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:43 pm
There is a whole other side of cheerleading most people don't even know about! Its called all star cheerleading and it never involves being at games and is completely unrelated to any school. All you do is go to competitions where you are up against tons of teams at a time. You go to at least one every month and there are ones that you have to win something to go to. There's a world championship, there's rings to win, rivalries, the whole nine yards. Many girls are on more than one team for thei... (more »)
MD100 said...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 7:04 pm
well in contrast, there are other athletes who do the same thing. I also know football players who do it just for the girls? But of course most of them aren't like that at all, so same goes for cheer. At my school, the whole team does it for their passion, not as a way of attention. Maybe you're school is different, but im just putting it out there that you cant stereotype
MD100 replied...
Feb. 9, 2011 at 7:06 pm
(this is to Crash on the topic of "Girls doing cheer to get the guys")
Wolf_Warriorz replied...
Aug. 3, 2011 at 10:22 pm
I'd have to say... Cheerleading is kind of a sport. All these cheerleaders are posting crap along the lines of 'I'd like to see you throw a girl up in the air and do a handspring" etc etc... And I'd like them to put together a full eight minute case with virtually no evidence while flowing and having no idea what the other team is about to throw at you. That's Policy debate-speak. My point here is, every sport will in some way be considered "Not Really a Sport" by some people, and that will neve... (more »)
sheepshortie said...
Jan. 29, 2011 at 11:00 pm
Last year, I scoffed at cheerleading like the majority of people in the world, until my friend convinced me to try out. I did, and I realized from the first day of practice what a true sport cheerleading really is. There's really no feeling like nailing a new stunt or being praised by your coach after finally memorizing a dance. Why do we become cheerleaders, despite all the ridicule, and why aren't we just gymnasts if we can tumble? Because nothing in the world is better than finishing your rou... (more »)
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