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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themacmonster said...
Jan. 16, 2015 at 9:04 pm
For school cheerleading, I really believe it depends on the coach that makes it a sport. I previously had a coach who wouldn't let us do ANY cool stunts and we weren't allowed to condition! WHAT? But now, I have a coach (who owns a crossfit gym) and makes us work REALLY hard! Competitive cheerleading: definitely a sport! But for school, it really depends on the coach. A lot of times, it's more than just waving your arms up and down and clapping like so many think!
MarykThis 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. replied...
Jan. 20, 2015 at 10:00 am
I agree it's the same thing with marching bands too,it all depends on the attitude and tolerance of the director. I do not like directors that push emphasis on getting it perfect and winning at compositions. No one is perfect and to expect anyone to be perfect is a total fallacy. Creating groupthink in a marching band or cheer leading culture is a terrible thing that a director or coach can do, that's why Ohio State had to fire their director who would not let his students tell anyone about is h... (more »)
thatweirdone said...
Dec. 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm
Omg finally someone gets it! (: 
MarykThis 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. replied...
Dec. 18, 2014 at 10:48 am
I do not really see this as a sport but more an art-form like all forms of dance. Just because they do it on the football field or at a basketball game does not justify it being a a sport.
taylor mitchell replied...
Feb. 3, 2015 at 9:33 pm
the definition of the word sport is a specific diversion, usually involving a physical exercise and having a set form and body of rules, cheer is a very physical activity and cheer does indeed have written rules.
MarykThis 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. replied...
Feb. 10, 2015 at 9:30 am
So does ballet and other forms of dance, you start out with your positions and then you learn the other steps. Also lots of timing is involved because you must fallow the time signature of the song or score. Imagine if they made ballet a sport,it would look and sound different than The Firebird, Nutcracker, or even The Rite of Spring. Same issue with marching bands, if you make it a sport you have to sacrifice the creativity, interpretation, and expression in the music itself to focus on points ... (more »)
MarykThis 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...
Nov. 7, 2014 at 10:11 am
I think that cheerleading should fall under the same leage as marching band and color-guard because it is more based in choriography and timming like ballet. Therefore, it should fall under arts because dancing is an art that has manny styles that are conected and allways changeing like cheerleading itself
pineappleprincess replied...
Nov. 20, 2014 at 2:26 pm
yes! i completely agree! i am in the color guard and winterguard and i get mad when they say its not hard work it so easy its not a sport but it is. im not a fan of spirit cheerleading but competitive is amazing!
Alexis replied...
Mar. 26, 2015 at 1:20 pm
Cheerleading is a sport and I'm talking about competitive cheerleading not the school stuff with pompoms and all that other stuff! It involves hardworking, teamwork, and skills. Until you've actually done cheerleading like being out on the floor and do it I suggest you take another look at it. Because I do competitive cheerleading so I can say something but to all the others who don't do it just say it that's wrong and I don't like those people!
byefelicia said...
Sept. 24, 2014 at 1:18 pm
Sideline cheer is the one that cheers on football players and is basically just a season of conditioning that prepares you for the following sesason of cheer known as competitive. Both types of cheer have 3 hours practices everyday plus many camps that last 4 hours or more over the summer
kinzie3 replied...
Jan. 5, 2015 at 2:53 pm
i practice 5 to 10 hours a day. at least.
CloutGirl said...
Sept. 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm
What's the difference between cheerleading and competitive cheerleading ? Most people think cheerleading is a sport because it you have to practice in order to get better.
VarsityCheerLWHS replied...
Nov. 5, 2014 at 11:59 pm
Cheer is a school activity usually to support other athletes in a season and competitive cheer is going against other squads showing each suads talents and capabilities.
kinzie3 replied...
Jan. 5, 2015 at 3:01 pm
okay lets get this straight, competive cheerleading- you spend all year prepairing and going to small comopetitions to go to competivive NCA. the hard practices can end badly i have had many concussions and i know many girls who have broke bones and gone to the hospital for injurys resulting in cheer (i do both school cheer and competitive and competitive is harder in my opinion) school cheer- yes the girls will cheer on the side line of football games but they honestly hate it! plus the real w... (more »)
byefelicia said...
Sept. 16, 2014 at 1:16 pm
Most of those who say cheer is not a sport are highly uneducated and unlike those who believe it is a sport, you dont have facts to back up your oppion. Going off of what you see in movies hardly compares to what goes on in reality. Unless you have been in the shoes of a competitive cheerleader or have actual facts to back you up, your oppinion is most likely invalid and should probly be kept to your self.
englotgg said...
Jun. 9, 2014 at 10:50 pm
Just watch smoed 2014 wordls on youtube. then you can come up and tell me tht im not an athlete. But please at least come up with an intelligent reasoning. Btw on of the girls on m cheer team skippe a year we aren't all dumb blondes.
kinzie3 replied...
Jan. 5, 2015 at 3:03 pm
praise the lord! somone understands me! oh and spellcheck!
burnsboy12 said...
May 21, 2014 at 11:53 am
I personally think cheerleading is not a sport.  all you do is dance around in short shirts.  
emeraldcaroline replied...
May 28, 2014 at 10:02 pm
I agree about high school cheerleading, but competitive cheerleading is definitely a sport. 
sunnyflipperhappy replied...
Sept. 9, 2014 at 3:56 pm
agreed this is a very contructive thing
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