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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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cheergrl said...
May 6, 2011 at 9:39 am
how about you learn how to spell cheerleader before you claim to be one!
heycaraa said...
Apr. 21, 2011 at 11:48 am
okay, i'm a highschool cheerleader and our squad is very small we only have three stunt groups cause no one in our school believes in us. But we shut them up after the fact we competed throughout the whole basketball and wrestling season and mostly won all of them beating a college team and a teams around our area that no one could beat. So if you say cheerleading is not a sport than your wrong because i would really LOVE to see you and anyone else go out there lift a girl while that girl is doi... (more »)
NatalieVasquez replied...
Apr. 26, 2011 at 1:09 pm
Yes ; How iAgree With You So Much On That ; iAm Also A HighSchool Cheerleader And No One And iMean NO ONE Believes In Us Its Sad !
flyinhawaiian69 replied...
May 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm

My cheer group only haad one stunt group an we went to statess. CHeering is amazingg


Betaboo said...
Apr. 14, 2011 at 11:29 am
this article is talking about COMPETITIVE CHEERLEADING, not sideline, and it clearly states so. It also mentions the fact that sideline is NOT a sport, but if you still have that thought about competitive, that is the key word. COMPETITIVE. They spend all their time preparing for real organized competitions with rules and judges and they chuck their friends up in the air to do backflips on sometimes unpadded floors. Read the article again maybe? There's your explanation.
cheerleader123 replied...
May 4, 2011 at 2:24 pm
who cares what you think!!!!!
Top.Gun.All-Stars said...
Apr. 13, 2011 at 8:34 am
Cheerleading isn’t a sport, it has it’s own category of difficulty. Therefore, it’s more than a sport. I 100% agree with this article.... SCHOOL cheer IS NOT a SPORT but Competitive Cheer IS A SPORT! Its one of the most athletic sports out there! :P
Live.Love.Cheer said...
Mar. 30, 2011 at 9:08 pm
ugh yeah definatly. theres a point system, rules guidelines, and everything
sunshine said...
Mar. 29, 2011 at 10:45 am
cheerleading is a sport
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. [:
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