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Cheerleading is a Sport This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     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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applepie said...
Sept. 28, 2010 at 11:26 am:
cheerrleading is for people who cant play sports ok
 
LillianSmiles replied...
Nov. 4, 2010 at 8:08 pm :
Sideline cheerleading is not a sport. Competitive cheerleading IS. Competition cheer doesn't involve "waving" or "weird chants". It involves stuff like round off back handspring back handspring tuck stepout round off layout tuck step out round off double full. If you don't know what that is, look them up. I'm pretty sure that is structured and organized if there are official names for the moves. Suck that stupid senator from Connecticut that said cheer wasn't a sport!!!!
 
iFly replied...
Nov. 10, 2010 at 11:53 am :
For those of you who don't think Competitive Cheerleading is a sport, you obviously don't know the definition of a sport. A sport involves physical activity, has a set of rules and regulations that must be followed, and compete. Competitive Cheerleading obviously meets all the "guidelines" to be considered a sport. Sideline Cheer i agree isn't technically a sport because they're not competing for a title. The ability that these cheerleaders that compete can be more athletic that any of the playe... (more »)
 
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sally cheers said...
Aug. 25, 2010 at 9:35 pm:
well cheerlearders do anything but suck talk to me when u geta a life or a real hobbie like cheerleading unless u are a lazy cow
 
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flmscheer said...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 5:20 pm:
i completly agree
 
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sportsfan said...
Jun. 19, 2010 at 7:04 am:
Cheerleading is a sport and a dangerous one at that. It's evolved into gymnastics over the years. Penn and Teller opened my eyes about this one. I think what you all should do is get together change the name. Maybe start calling it something like "fan coaching" or something that would better descirbe the difficult effort and danger invovled. Those who say its not a sport are simply stooges for the unimorm suppliers. Watch Penn and Teller on this. Googd luck. 
 
cheerleader replied...
Aug. 18, 2010 at 1:54 pm :
good point. i love to cheer girl!!!!
 
taylor replied...
Aug. 18, 2010 at 1:55 pm :
you spelled good wrong!!!!
 
Bookworm replied...
Dec. 5, 2010 at 4:31 pm :
Cheer is a sport
 
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cheerfreak1122 said...
May 16, 2010 at 8:29 pm:
okay, well I am a cheerleader, and I believe all cheerleading is a sport. Imma varsity high school cheerleader. which means i do side-line cheers. we stunt and tumble and have competions like the competitive cheerleading teams. we don't just cheer and get the crowd pumped up, we stunt, jump, and tumble.
 
Cheerleaderflyer replied...
Aug. 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm :
I agree same with my team. we have won sectionals 7 times and counting. not just a oranary person can do a toe touch or round off backhandspring or a kick twist basket toss. takes skill. i bet if people try that they'd hurt themselves cuz they dont got the skill as a cheerleader!
 
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breiteliza This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 16, 2010 at 12:42 am:
I totally agree with you. My sister and I are both cheerleaders. She is a junior in high school. She bruised her talus bone (stunting shes a flyer) and was on crutches for 5 months and a boot for 2 months. She dislocated her elbow (tumbling) she had to sit out for 2 months till she was cleared and she still has to wear a brace to tumble and sprained her ankle (jumping) and was on crutches soph. year for a month and a half and now has to wear an ankle brace on both of her ankles. This year (junio... (more »)
 
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hatelove said...
Apr. 27, 2010 at 10:30 pm:
i beleave all cherrleading is a sport!!! and i hate cherrleaders so thats weaird
 
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