Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

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

By
     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 369 comments. Post your own!

Kaho said...
Jan. 13 at 9:00 am:
Cheerleaders are athleates because they are just working hard. They are practicing hardly. They are working hard and they are moving their bodies. I think cheerleaders are athleates.  
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
lexiibeale said...
Jan. 12 at 10:14 am:
I've been a cheerleader for four yeara and you absolutely do get a workout from cheer! It is not easy lifting a one hundred pound girl in the air! It is not easy to flip your body in the air. It is not easy to have sharp motions and coomplete a three minute rutuine. You've got to be in shape to do all those things.
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Cheerleading4Life said...
Jan. 7 at 3:16 pm:
You really have to condsider the hours of practice that leads to sideline cheerleading. Even sideline cheerleaders practice daily and stunt, tumble, jump and chant. Stunting and tumble alone are enough for sideline cheering to be considered a sport because of the sweat and injuries that come out of it. 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Cheerleading011 said...
Jan. 7 at 3:14 pm:
Yes you do. Cheerleading practices are one of the worse practices. Theres hours of conditioning, stunting, tumbling, and then finally cheering. 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
minnie1234 said...
Dec. 19, 2013 at 8:28 pm:
i think it si not a sport because it dosent give u excrise
 
ilove you replied...
Jan. 15 at 11:15 pm :
no excercise? seriously . thats hilarious. why do you thin all the all star cheerlewders have absand are fit? huh? fromsittingon the couch like you all day , and eating .
 
briana_quintiliano replied...
Feb. 13 at 9:21 pm :
Sorry Minni but you are completely wrong with that statement. I for one was a cheerleader, we had conditiong camps all througnout summer, ran before every practice, performed cardio workouts at the end of practice, and just in general cheerleading is a workout in itself. Flipping in the air uses a lot of muscle just as lifting people. 
 
Little elena replied...
Apr. 10 at 11:05 am :
I do think cheerleading is sport it gives perfect exercise to the body and is fun
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
sexyminnie said...
Dec. 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm:
TBH (to be honest) i do not think cheerleading is sport because u cant get any excrise from cheering that's my opinion...........
 
RobinLynn replied...
Jan. 6 at 12:08 pm :
For thoses that so you can't get any excersize from cheerleading,  tumbling and stunting are both endurance and strength activities. Tumbling itself is pure cardio and strength. Doing a simple backhandspring is a full body activity. Legs- squat, jump- cardio, -arms/shoulders- the block from the handstand, abs- the snap down. Do this over and over again until it is perfected... you have just done a full body workout and that is the very BASIC tumbling skill in cheerleading. I have yet to... (more »)
 
hayliebean replied...
Jan. 23 at 11:46 am :
When I was in cheer, I was in the best shape I had ever been in, and I was only a sideline cheerleader.  If you do not think cheerleading is a sport, then you should do some more reasearch!  I got so much exercise from cheerleading!  I was toned and lean and I looked great because of it!  During practices, if we were misbehaving, we did laps, or push ups.  I was 120 lbs, and I lifted a girl onto my shoulders who was 175 lbs.  Cheerleading being a sport is not an opi... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Emely S. said...
Dec. 19, 2013 at 10:49 am:
In my personal opion cheerleadin is not a sport. 
 
SoccerBurns12 replied...
May 19 at 11:56 am :
i completely agree with you.  Cheerleading is not in any relm considered a sport.  all it is is cirls flying around in short skirts yelling "Go Go Hershey"  thats for you Maddy
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
santaclaussyayshello said...
Dec. 16, 2013 at 9:12 am:
I think cheerleading is a jolly good sport. Santa says hello cheerleaders!!!
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Ashley G. This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 3, 2013 at 10:11 am:
It's a good thing
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
BADASSCHEER010 said...
Dec. 1, 2013 at 12:31 pm:
thank you so much im assumung that you are a cheerleader and other people dont understand how amazing cheerleading is and let me just say to whoever is reading this "there are 2 things in life that you should be afraid of spiders and a cheerleader who has just be told that cheerleading is not a sport" 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Person said...
Nov. 10, 2013 at 4:24 pm:
I am highly impressed by your arguement! I never considered cheerleading as a sport and I especially admire how you distinguish the entertainers from the competitors. At my school, we have a "spirit squad" and the dance team: both perform at games but the dance team actually competes in regional competitions. The Texas Education Agency does not consider dancing a physical activity (similar to your dilemna with cheerleading) which has thwarted my high school academic plans (I had t... (more »)
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
TeaWithMariaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 26, 2013 at 6:27 pm:
While I agree that competive cheerleading is a sport, I think sideline cheerleading should be considered a sport too.Not all sports have to be competitive; we know what the definition of what a sport is is up for interperetation, and I always took it that a sport is anything which requires energy and puts emphasis on physical activity. Although it's obviously more lenient than competetive cheerleading, sideline cheerleading still puts a ton of emphasis on physical activity and there's pr... (more »)
 
hayliebean replied...
Jan. 23 at 11:49 am :
I agree with you!  I was in sideline cheerleading and I was in the best shape I had ever been in.  I was a base and was lifting girls 25lbs heavier than even I was. 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Lizzy G. said...
Oct. 14, 2013 at 9:55 am:
I personallyn believe  cheerleading is a sport. I have been doing it for 14 seasons now. I work very hard to do things. I have to be able to run a mile, bench 100 pounds and squat 150. It may not sound like much but it's still hard. I do not believe sideline is a sport, but I still work hard in it to get ready for competitve. And competitive is a sport in my eyes.! I dont have on other sports or clubs so I dont know why people have to hate on cheer. 
 
Reply to this comment Post a new comment
 
Site Feedback