Cheerleading is a Sport MAG

By Renee R., Arlington Heights, IL

     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.



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This article has 482 comments.


on Aug. 24 2011 at 8:09 pm
marissa87 BRONZE, Glenmoore, Pennsylvania
4 articles 3 photos 80 comments

Favorite Quote:
what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular

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.

on Aug. 24 2011 at 5:34 pm
ExplicitRainstorms SILVER, Long Beach, California
8 articles 2 photos 2 comments
Tenwyg, I respect you so much. You are incredibly correct and proved your point flawlessly. (and I agree)

on Aug. 24 2011 at 3:58 pm
EllenVellenSpellen, Wheaton, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I've never let my school interfere with my education."
Mark Twain

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 skilled athletes of the high levels.

Another point: all sports have different levels of comitment and difficulty within the sport. For soccer, there is park district (usually very low level, minimal training, to be blunt a joke) then there's club soccer (high to very high level, professional training, lots of traveling for different competitions, the works). As you can see, there are huge differences between the two extreams of each catagory (park disrict and club) just as there are between 'sideline cheerleading' to competitive cheerleading.


on Aug. 24 2011 at 3:31 pm
marissa87 BRONZE, Glenmoore, Pennsylvania
4 articles 3 photos 80 comments

Favorite Quote:
what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular

i want you to explain to me exactly how dance is not a sprt. I am not a dancer but my sister is and i can tell you she does just as much practice and physical activity as i do and i play travel soccer, and softball. which are both sports.

on Aug. 24 2011 at 3:28 pm
marissa87 BRONZE, Glenmoore, Pennsylvania
4 articles 3 photos 80 comments

Favorite Quote:
what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular

dance is much more challenging. NO OFFENSE!

on Aug. 24 2011 at 3:27 pm
marissa87 BRONZE, Glenmoore, Pennsylvania
4 articles 3 photos 80 comments

Favorite Quote:
what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular

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 opionion. sorry for all the misspellings and stuff didnt feel like correcting them.

kara (: said...
on 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) 

on 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 GOLD said...
on Aug. 6 2011 at 1:01 am
Catiestar GOLD, Clayton, New Jersey
17 articles 0 photos 54 comments

Favorite Quote:
You be the anchor that keeps my feet on the ground, I'll be the wings that keep your heart in the clouds <3

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.

on Aug. 3 2011 at 10:22 pm
Wolf_Warriorz SILVER, Belgrade, Montana
5 articles 0 photos 15 comments
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 never change. As if people consider debate a sport, even though the hours of research and other preparation outstrips football practice by double. For the average meet, not even Divisionals or State competition.  (Literally. We figured it out.) But while I think cheerleading is a bit unsportly simply because the girls most of the time fail to cover up their bum and or lady parts. That's far from professional. And that doesn't just happen in sideline cheerleading -.-  Sports are supposed to be professional, about excelling in a skill.... Not about looking like you'r working the street corner. I understand that physically, cheerleading is greuling and just as tough as other sports, most of the time, but it's just not professional. Sports shouldn't have to have participants half naked just to succeed.

rashima said...
on Aug. 3 2011 at 12:20 pm
Cheerleading is a kind of dance, sport and acrobatic art as well. 

on Aug. 3 2011 at 9:37 am
Alex_Durham GOLD, Vineland, New Jersey
14 articles 1 photo 234 comments

Favorite Quote:
Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

They probably knew the proper terms, but lots of people who read the aryicle wouldnt have known what that meant (and they would have had to unnesasarily explain what back tuck and others meant and that might have taken away from the flow of the article)

on 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?

on Aug. 3 2011 at 9:24 am

I'll admit it, cheerleaders probably work hard. They probably do work all season for one routine. But I don't think it's right to say it's the most difficult sport or anything that a lot of others have commented. How difficult a sport is depends on how much effort you put in. Cross country might be tough for some, but for others it might be easy. Do I make sense? If something's 'easy' you might just not be putting enough effort in. So I will give in to you, cheerleading is a sport. Timing and precision are everything, but then so it is in every sport. I'm just saying you shouldn't have to get your point across by making false assumptions and slamming others.

(And not to make any assumptions of my own, but I know a LOT of cheerleaders who are "flirts in skirts". Any other modest person would be embarrassed to wave their butt around like that. Why can't you wear clothes that covers you? Adding another inch of coverage with flexibility could never hinder you.)


on Aug. 3 2011 at 12:27 am
ButterflyWings21 BRONZE, Sherwood, Oregon
3 articles 0 photos 8 comments

I really agree with you here. I'm a cheerleader myself (both sideline and competitive) and I get a ton of people always saying that it isn't a sport. I always seem to make them thing otherwise though... (:

P.S. The proper term isn't back flip, it's a back tuck. Also, I think you mean't a round off back hand spring instead of a round flip flop? Awesome Article!!(:


on Aug. 3 2011 at 12:21 am
ButterflyWings21 BRONZE, Sherwood, Oregon
3 articles 0 photos 8 comments
Cheerleading is a sport. Sideline Cheer might not be, but competitive cheer is.

JimmyPage13 said...
on Aug. 2 2011 at 8:48 pm
Cheerleading is not a sport, just like danceing, music, and painting are not sports. these are arts, not sports. they can still be competetive, but they do not have specific objectives.

BalletGirl98 said...
on Aug. 2 2011 at 5:44 pm
BalletGirl98, Idabel, Oklahoma
0 articles 0 photos 14 comments

Favorite Quote:
The heart of the dance is the heart of the dancer.
~ Ghazallah al-Badriyyah

I can relate. Many people in my town do not believe ballet-or dance in general- is not a sport. I can feel your frustration at trying to explain to people that it is not just pretty girls in skirts:)

Ally_H. GOLD said...
on Jul. 13 2011 at 12:04 pm
Ally_H. GOLD, Bridgeport, West Virginia
18 articles 26 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don\'t matter and those who matter don\'t mind.

I agree with this article completely and I can relate to it as well. I used to dance competitively on a team, and even though year after year we would continue to place first in every competition we participated in, we would constantly be told not only by students but also by teachers that what we did was not a sport, even though we worked much harder than the basketball and football teams. People need to start realizing that the world of competitive sports is rapidly changing, and they should be open to accepting new and different sports that don't just involve a bunch of sweaty guys chasing a ball around for two hours. Great article, continue with your writing.

Ally_H. GOLD said...
on Jul. 13 2011 at 11:55 am
Ally_H. GOLD, Bridgeport, West Virginia
18 articles 26 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don\'t matter and those who matter don\'t mind.

Seriously? Did you not even read the article? I guess I'll have to fill you in. It said sideline cheer is not a sport. Multiple times. Though you were probably too busy trying to look up girls' skirts to take the time to read an article...


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