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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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This article has 366 comments. Post your own!

Wazoo12 said...
Feb. 27, 2012 at 8:35 am:
nope its not a sport.
 
fruitsbasketFREAK replied...
Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:40 am :
No offense, but you're wrong.  The author of this piece states all the points that show that it absolutely is a sport.  I was cheer captain last year, so I know what I'm talking about.  For future reference, IT IS A SPORT.
 
fruitsbasketFREAK replied...
Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:40 am :
No offense, but you're wrong.  The author of this piece states all the points that show that it absolutely is a sport.  I was cheer captain last year, so I know what I'm talking about.  For future reference, IT IS A SPORT.
 
fruitsbasketFREAK replied...
Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:40 am :
Oops my comment doubled
 
livelivecheer<3 replied...
Mar. 11, 2012 at 8:19 pm :
Cheer IS a sport, have you ever tried a double full from extended lib, i didn't think so. Try the sport before you judge!
 
loveforcheer replied...
Aug. 1, 2012 at 8:33 am :
Why isn't it a sport though? You can't just not defend your answer...
 
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polar bears said...
Feb. 15, 2012 at 10:41 am:
HI!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
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cheermom said...
Jan. 29, 2012 at 8:25 pm:
to the JUDGE, im happy to hear that your wife was a coach, but i myself have coached and if my husband ever said that comment he would know that there would be the dog house in the near future. with that said, sideline is very diff from competitve cheer, varsity cheer is alot diff than allstar cheer. my child has been cheering since she was 4yrs old and i have coached her all the way until 2 yrs ago. she is an allstar cheerleader, she competes on 3 teams and 2 are level 2 and 1 is alevel 4. my ?... (more »)
 
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cheermom said...
Jan. 29, 2012 at 8:14 pm:
yes cheerleading is a sport or worlds wouldnt be on espn, and before anyone can say its not ( try it ).
 
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SkyeOfLights said...
Jan. 27, 2012 at 5:41 am:
How can we be athletes if it isn't a sport? A lot of dancers don't compete with anyone but yet, people still refer to it as a sport.
 
bumblee23 replied...
Apr. 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm :
acutually a lot of dancer do perform
 
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SkyeOfLights said...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 5:06 am:
I have been arguing with everyone because no one thinks that cheerleading is a sport. It definitely is. Although, I don't agree with you on the fact that sideline cheering isn't a sport. My team is only sideline, but we still learn dances, we tumble and stunt, and we work just as hard as competition teams. I don't think that this should be ruled out as a sport just because we don't compete against someone else. We still do every bit as much as competition teams and put as much work into it.
 
gg123 replied...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm :
sideline cheerleaders do not work as hard as competitive cheerleaders do. maybe they stunt and tumble but not as much as competitive cheerleaders do. if you think sideline cheerleading is hard than you obviously havent tried competitive cheerleading.
 
SkyeOfLights replied...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 9:18 pm :
I agree that it is not as hard as competitive cheerleading, but we work just as hard. We have a million practices and do the same stunts that our competition team does, because we want to make our sideline cheering count just as much. Just because we aren't scored by judges doesn't mean that we don't work hard too.
 
Cheerbbyk replied...
Jan. 27, 2012 at 5:38 am :
it is not a sport because you are not playing agenst anyone. you are just doing sideline for yourself. sideline cheerleaders are athleates because they work just as hard as competitive sometimes, but it isn't a sport because there is no clear oponate
 
maizyiscrazy replied...
Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm :
Swimming is a sport. Dancing is a sport. Running is a sport. If you're doing a marathon, you're not trying to beat anyone but yourself. Just because people wear short skirts while cheering doesn't make it a stereotypical girl past time. It is a work out, involving sweat, training and pain, just like any other sport.
 
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Cheersmylife said...
Jan. 19, 2012 at 10:54 pm:
Okay,CHEERLEADING IS A SPORT. Ive been cheering for 3 years now. It's so very difficult. I've had many injuries,broken bones,and many peoplenhave gone to the hospital and got paralyzed or even killed for just trying to do a stunt or flip. People risk their lives everyday fighting gravity and cheerleading!! And I like how all the People who say it isn't a sport are wimpy kids that have never tried it before. Dang,try it beofore you judge it. K thanks bye
 
gg123 replied...
Jan. 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm :
i agree completly
 
fruitsbasketFREAK replied...
Mar. 9, 2012 at 7:41 am :
RIGHT!  You tell them!
 
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raiderxtremeallstars said...
Jan. 19, 2012 at 10:20 am:
i've been a competitive cheerleader since i was 4 i hate that people say that its not a sport but whatever floats your boat..you know?
 
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