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 482 comments. Post your own now!

hellohello said...
Aug. 18, 2016 at 2:20 pm
Yes, cheerleading is without a doubt a sport. It is really hard with all the flips and stunts.
JuiceyValencia replied...
Sept. 22, 2016 at 12:38 pm
You're my hero
Arturo851 replied...
Sept. 23, 2016 at 12:20 pm
dude is a savage
Jayden replied...
Dec. 20, 2016 at 10:32 pm
Have you ever seen one of these "ugly virgin girls" in action? Don't be so quick to judge when I can assure you that they can do a lot more than you. I know this because you wouldn't have commented that if you were ever a cheerleader. We put in just as much time, teamwork, and dedication as any football player or basketball player. Think before you open your ugly virgin mouth next time.
cheerleader.since.5.years replied...
Feb. 2, 2017 at 2:43 pm
Excuse me i'm gorgeous
justthegrmmarpolice replied...
Feb. 7 at 11:42 am
I cannot verify if you are gorgeous, but I can say that you are probably narcissistic.
readernotwriter said...
Aug. 18, 2016 at 2:18 pm
Nice article, but it's still very debatable. How are you sure that cheeringleading is a valid sport?
C.E.Roth replied...
Feb. 11, 2017 at 3:57 pm
How are you really sure football is a valid sport? The only way something becomes a "valid" sport is if enough people believe it is. Anything is debatable, but the proof here supports that cheer leading is as strenuous and competitive as any other activity. And heck, I'm not even a cheerleader.
ilovecheer3646 said...
May 23, 2016 at 11:18 am
@sambest12498 i would like to see you preform your top dance and cheer rouyine,that has to have jumps, tumbling, and stunting,all under 2 min and thirty pressure.
cheerleader1999 said...
Apr. 12, 2016 at 11:38 am
cheerleadin should be a sport football players just through a ball we work must harder they should cheer us on while we cheer copetive
MikeWazowski18 replied...
Oct. 6, 2016 at 2:56 pm
@cheerleader1999 football players don't just "throw" a ball around.
ladybug1217 said...
Mar. 10, 2016 at 8:51 am
In my opinion, cheerleading is a sport. All cheerleaders have to keep good grades, just like any other sport player. You have to keep your grades great. Cheerleading is a sport and being in a marching band(booorrriiinngg) is not a sport. Being in a marching band has nothing to do with being an athlete. @sambest12498
murphykk replied...
Apr. 21, 2016 at 11:10 am
Marching band is a sport when you practice at 6 am in the morning till you sweating it IS A SPORT
sambest12498 said...
Feb. 19, 2016 at 9:02 am
In my honest opinion, cheer leading is not a sport. Im a member of the marching band and if they cant consider that a sport, then cheer leading isnt a sport. we do as much if not more than any other sport, we go to competitons, band camp, way more than just going to a football game for half time entertainment. so if cheer leading is a so called "sport" then marching band should be one too.
cheerleading101 replied...
Mar. 4, 2016 at 2:31 pm
in marching band, you dont break legs, nor do you throw people in the air and are expected to catch them. you may practice for hours and put alot of time and effort into it, but you do not go onto a mat for 2.5 minutes and work your butt off. In cheerleading, you get one chance to show people what youre really like. you do not get do over, like in football when you have different plays and more than one opportunity to score points. so please, tell me cheerleading isnt a sport.
kotabear23 replied...
Mar. 11, 2016 at 3:00 pm
Band isn't a sport its a hobby. I play the guitar does that mean i'm a athlete because of that? NO?? It means i have a cool hobby. Dont try to argue something thats pointless. TO argue that cheer is a sport is reasonable i play football and baseball competitive cheer in my opinion is a sport but not when they just cheer on the team.
cheerandtrack4lyfe replied...
Mar. 15, 2016 at 10:15 pm
it is not considered a sport due to the fact that if u can play an instrument you can do it cheer requires you to be fit know exactly what you are doing and stunt safely. we also have to make it look easy and not show how much pain we are sometimes in many of my team mates including me have competed with something broken or broke something while competing
girl3 replied...
Mar. 16, 2016 at 11:27 am
There is way more than "going to a football game for half time". You think there's just that to the sport, but some teams do competitions. They practice more than 6 hours per week, and trust me, it's REALLY intense. They have to go to regionals, nationals and even worlds. It's even one of the most dangerous sport in the world and I understand why! I think you're misundertsanding the cheerleaders at your school and the ones that are doing it competitively.
HES123 replied...
Apr. 25, 2016 at 6:03 pm
Cheerleading in fact IS a sport. We throw girls in the air!! We tumble our hearts out! Only cheerleaders can do that. We work SUPER hard!
ilovecheer3646 replied...
May 23, 2016 at 11:19 am
right,we throw 100 lb girls in the air,football players throw a 2 lb ball,the difference?we ALWAYS catch ours.
theone said...
Feb. 19, 2016 at 8:08 am
I agree with you, competitive cheer leading should be considered a sport. You do everything that is required to call something a sport.
Site Feedback