Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

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.

Join the Discussion

This article has 426 comments. Post your own now!

ComeOnEileen said...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 8:39 pm
I'd have to agree. This is first and foremost a writing website, but I think this is definitely a good Hot Topic and Opinion piece. As for the whole debate, I think that arguing is pretty stupid. I'm not a cheerleader, I'm not friends with cheerleaders, but I do respect what they do. It's different from gymnastics, and I don't think for a second that I could do any of it. It sure looks crazy hard, even if I'm just going off of Bring It On movies :)
alexisabbott said...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 8:37 pm
Cheerleading is defenatley a sport.  i have been cheering since i was in 3rd grade and i am now in 8th. and in the spring i am trying out for high school cheer.
cheergirl2010 replied...
Jan. 26, 2011 at 1:37 pm
Cheerleading is  a high like of my  day. i have been in cheerleading since 3trd grade and now im graduated
noname37014 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 25, 2010 at 4:24 pm
Just because you have a good topic, doesn't make this well written. It's redundant and doesn't really flow. I'm sure that with some revisions it could be very convincing, but right now, it falls a little short.
Megan456 replied...
Jan. 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm
If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all. That isn't very nice. I think it is well written and I think cheer leading IS a sport.
Defyinggravity replied...
Mar. 1, 2011 at 4:01 pm
Everyone is entitled to there opinion, even if you disagree with it. The person you told "I think cheer IS a sport" to never said anything about it not being one. They simply said that the author had a good topic but fell short with the writing. They also said the work could be improved. Other people are allowed an opinion just as much as you are. It's called the first amendment.
LiL K33kz said...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 8:22 pm
love it how ppl wanna think they know more then u and you been cheering longer then they have. even tho i am on danceline we still cheer we have our little sideline cheers like cheerleaders evn tho we're more dancey but rly come on now go head and try to fulfill that little dream of urs but as far as im concerned you claim u know more but do u rly???... no matter what iwill always nd forever b a cheerleader itz in my blood cant help but to be.
cheergod10 said...
Dec. 7, 2010 at 11:09 am
Cheerleading is definatly a mentally challenging sport. There are extremly long hours of practice. I once cheered for thirty-six hours straight. There is so much to memorize and it takes every muscle in your body to stay perfectly sharp and precise. Cheerleading is the best sport known to man.
cheercoach said...
Dec. 6, 2010 at 5:27 am
I can not believe that this subject is still being debated! I began cheering for pop-warner football teams at age 6 and continued to cheer competetively through college. Now I coach a high school squad that regularly brings home trophies from regional and national competitions. Many cheerleaders are also gymnasts, who participate in cheering to keep their skills sharp throughout the year and to work on new tricks. They cheer on the sidelines, not for popularity, but because cheerleading i... (more »)
ChEeRhOtTiE105 said...
Dec. 5, 2010 at 3:33 pm
Hi ok i have been a cheerleader for ten years now, and captian for 6. It is most definitly a sport and if you don't agre than you most say that football isnt a sport. because the only difference between cheerleading and football is that we throw people n they throw balls. I get that they tackle but studies hav shown that more people get injured doing cheerleading than football. also in football you jus kinda wing it on the field but in cheer you have to know what ur doing and n... (more »)
rawash said...
Dec. 4, 2010 at 8:26 pm
My parents and I always talk about if cheerleading is a sport of not.  Cheerleading takes so much muscle stregth and energy it's not even funny! You also can't be afraid. If you're afraid of doing a tuck and falling on you head you can't really succeed in the world of cheerleading. Cheerleading isreally dangerous. And, a lot of cheerleaders have ankle problems because of so much tumbling and jumping. So in conclusion i most definatley consider it a sport!!
Swim4life said...
Dec. 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Cheerleading fits the textbook description for the sport, yet its the people who actually cheer who are the cause for doubt. Most (yes, most) girls who cheer in high school fit the description that are the evidence that it is not in any way a sport. It is a way of promoting the fact that looking good is more important than doing well, be it school or sports. It sends a negative image and attracts people who wish to be portrayed by that negative image.

All in all, one may say it's ... (more »)

dancer1097<3 said...
Dec. 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm
i think cheerleading is a sport because it looks like it's a lot of work. It probaly takes a practice and endurance like any other sport.
ilovecheer said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm
haha, any idiot who doesnt think its a sport can get their lazy ass out there and do it. how flexible do you have to be to play football? -not very. it requires a lot of leg power to jump. and stunting is very exhausting. cheerleaders throw people in the air.. not a ball. :) so.. grow one and suck it up. hehehe. welllll this stuff only applies if the cheerleaders are good.. crappy ones just look dumb. hahaha.
no name replied...
Jan. 23, 2011 at 6:07 pm
hahahahahaha yeah right cheerleading is anything but a sport....all u do is throw people up in the air and dance theres nothing to it... even my grandma can do
LexieBoo! :D replied...
Mar. 21, 2011 at 10:39 am
Umm I would like to see yu throw girls over yur head and catch them, Or to be able to do everything with sharp moves and it has to look good, We just dont throw a ball around and run after it or tackle the person with the ball!
cheer is amazing(: replied...
May 10, 2011 at 8:26 am

cheerleading is def. a sport, you don't just throw people in the air, dance, and throw your arms in the air like people think. you actually have to have some sort of muscle. you use leg muscle to jump in the air, tumble ect. Cheerleading is a physical activity i believe... its NOT what everyone thinks it is...



just saying.

Metallxrose said...
Dec. 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm
I do not believe cheerleading is a sport. Any girl can easily 'cheer' for her teammates, like at a volleyball game, just by sitting on the sidelines. Why don't you just do gymnastics then? Cheering can be done by anyone at any age. You don't do anything diffiuclt that with a little practice, any one else can do easily ona  trampoline and such.
thecheer1990 replied...
Dec. 11, 2010 at 12:51 pm
cheer is so a sport we dont just cheer u have to be strong and u have to be the best  
blossom replied...
Jan. 23, 2011 at 6:09 pm
Site Feedback