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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BalletGirl98 said...
Aug. 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm
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:)
allywa88 said...
Jul. 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm
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 b... (more »)
KylieG said...
Jul. 12, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Ok i don’t think school cheer is a sport even if they compete. They just get a routine together with a bunch of backhand springs and will compete once maybe twice. In competitive cheer we work are butts of all year to do the hardest 2:30 second routine that might look easy but you don’t know how hard and breath taking it is to be on that mat and have a few hundred people plus judges waiting for you to fail. When you fail you have to get back up and keep going like it never happene... (more »)

Katsmile2012 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I enjoyed reading this article, but I did want to clarify something.  Because sideline cheerleading is not competitive, under the definition that you provided it cannot be considered a "sport".  But please consider my story.  

I am a senior at a small (just over 100 students) high school.  The year before I was a freshman a small sideline cheerleading team was formed by a student who had formerly been a competitive cheerleader.  Because our ... (more »)

Titancheer<3 said...
Jun. 28, 2011 at 1:45 am
OK ok, so maybe sideline cheering isnt a sport. i totally agree. imma cheerleader and we work our butts off. but Im on a High school team where we have to do sideline but we also do competitions. we got 8th in our state. if we did better we wuda went on to Nationals. our sideline stuff is like an easy practice. but we do both. so School Cheer is also considered a sport
Sierra M. said...
Jun. 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm

   I totally agree! I am a cheerleader so I what goes into it and how hard it is and I love it but the thing I hate is that most people don't think it is a sport! If those people would go to a practice and see the stunts we do and the tumbling that is put into a thing such as competion I think it would make them finally believe it's a sport! I also think that it's crazy the name that the cheeleaders have at my school and I just really want to change that and make people se... (more »)

Z_Wendland said...
Jun. 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm
I enjoyed reading your article, as I gymnast, I can relate to the frustration you feel. Its funny though, because you clearly state in your writing that you do not believe that school cheerleading is a sport. Yet I have seen about 5 comments saying "YAY SCHOOL CHEER... SCHOOL CHEER..." I find it amusing that some people read a title and then comment on the work without fully reading and/or understanding. said...
May 31, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Your right, cheer isnt a sport.  It is WAY to amazing yo be a sport.<3 <3 <3


AthenaBook said...
May 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm
Yes, cheerleading is a sport!!! I don't compeate myself, but my school's cheerleaders compeated in a national "cheer off" in which they had to make up their own routine, and perform it in front of others. It may be part short skirts and grabbing boys' attention, but it takes a lot of effort and creativity! You are SO right :)
SmileyRyleigh said...
May 27, 2011 at 9:26 pm
Cheerleading is a sport. I've competitively cheered since i was 4, and it is by far more challengeing than ANY other sport out there. I cheer on sidelines too, and my school cheerleading team is competitive as well as the all star team i am on. All teams are at the gym atleast 3 times a week, not including crossover teams, tumbling, conditoning, and stretching classes. i would like to see a football player pull a straight scorpion, or throw a double full 4 times in one routine. Then go back an h... (more »)
Shawnuhthan said...
May 25, 2011 at 10:44 am
cheerleading is not a sport but its an awesome hobby!=) i love lookin to the sideline after a touchdown seeing all of those skirts=P
GymnastSoccergirl333 replied...
May 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm
Umm, by "cheerleading" you mean school cheer, right? Just checking. I do all sports you throw at me, and I will say they work their butts off harder then other sports. Just checking with you...
allywa88 replied...
Jul. 13, 2011 at 11:55 am
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...
squirt1552 said...
May 16, 2011 at 12:45 pm
You probably shouldn't call other people uneducated when you can't even spell the word 'plain'... Jst Sayin :)
Cassy 8/29/10 said...
May 12, 2011 at 2:03 pm
UMMMM! Cheerleading is soooo a sport! I am a sideline and competion cheerleader. Cheerleading is a hard thing. I would really like to see you try and do a stunt sequences that has stunts tumbleing and a cheer with stunts. I would like to see you try a tun of back handspring and then into something else. Cheerleading takes alot of hard work. You need to work your butt off. You will get hurt. But you need to love this sport! to keep going after you get hurt! So yes cheerleading is a sport!
kbrooks2013 replied...
May 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm
You are so right! I love seeing people argue for cheerleading being a sport! I'm doing a persuasive speech for my english final that cheerleading is a sport. I really hope I change a lot of minds about cheerleading. We are SO not just a bunch of preppy girls flittering around chanting Yay go team!! We practice and work hard just like any other athlete! so thanks for your comment:)
all4kix replied...
Aug. 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm
I do agree that cheerleading is a sport. I play volleyball and just because I can't to flips and things like that doesn't mean that it is any less of a sport. I get where you are comming from though because I dance and I don't think many people on my volleyball team would be able to to the things I do in my dance class. All sports are challenging in there own way and just because many people can't switch to a different sport and expect to do well doesn't mean that their sport is any less of one ... (more »)
Summeroflight said...
May 8, 2011 at 10:23 am
okay first of all Cheerleading is a sport that is geared towards selfobsorbed girls but it can be a sport. I play alot of sports and Throwing someone high up in the air and makeing a pyramid seems very very very very difficult.  If you compete then I think its a sport but anyone can jump up and down and say GOOOO TEAM and wear super short skirts. At my church they had a choice play Football or be a cheerleader I was the only girl on my team and all the others were jumping up and down on the... (more »)
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 »)
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