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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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
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!
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 »)
hatelove said...
Apr. 27, 2010 at 10:30 pm
i beleave all cherrleading is a sport!!! and i hate cherrleaders so thats weaird
faithers.brown said...
Jan. 31, 2015 at 8:58 am
the only problem I have with this article is that competitive cheer isn't cheerleading. it just isnt. cheerleading is leading cheers, it's in the name, and in competitive cheer they don't lead any cheers. it is however cheer and they are in fact athletes. but that aren't cheerleaders.
ElleOnTop replied...
Feb. 3, 2015 at 10:58 am
I obviously agree that cheerleading is a sport.... Ive been a cheerleader since i was 6 and i have competed and won most of the time.....
head notch replied...
Feb. 8, 2015 at 7:05 pm
Go fuck u ourself cheerleading is damn motherfucking sport
Cheer replied...
Feb. 10, 2015 at 3:23 am
Cheerleaders do not think it's a sport just because its on a field or court but because it is a specific diversion that involves physical exercise with a set body and form. Also cheerleaders work harder than it may look many people that think of cheer as easy or not a sport wouldn't last a week in cheer
mary replied...
Feb. 12, 2015 at 7:35 am
Actually it is ave you ever tried it?
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