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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GleekGamer This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm
Exactly how I feel about color guard! XD Also, I'm pretty sure your essay was used as an example in my English class, since my teacher comes to TeenInk for her examples, so congrats. :P
Anynomus_Angel said...
Jul. 3, 2013 at 9:55 pm
Im sorry @devil but @steak is right marching band isnt a sport it has tons of physical activity but that doesnt make it a sport.
Anynomus_Angel said...
Jul. 3, 2013 at 9:52 pm
I dont really believe cheerleading is a sport because all your doing is dancing with pompoms and singing silly chants, so i disagree with your statement about competive cheerleading being a sport.
lmwright1 replied...
Oct. 27, 2013 at 9:18 pm
You obviously don't know what competitive cheerleading is, since we don't "just dance around with pom poms and sing silly chants". We throw girls in the air while they twist and flip. We pull amazing tumbling passes that you probably could never even dream of doing. And we don't sing silly chants. We cheer.
thankgodforcheer replied...
Dec. 1, 2013 at 12:34 pm
Alleenstaande said...
Jun. 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm
Insulting someone becuase what they think is a sport or not isn't really the most mature thing to do. If someone wants to believe that cheerleading isn't a sport then so be it. I personally believe that sideline cheerleading is just a form of gymnastics that is not competitive at all. Teenage girls beg to differ seeing that they want to feel apart of a sport. I am not trying to cause any dispute here, I am just stating my opinions. I do however believe that any kind of competitive activi... (more »)
meme said...
May 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm
studcupcake said...
May 2, 2013 at 1:14 pm
I wouldn't call it the most dangerous sport in the world. I call it a sport but it is no more dangerous than gymnastics, football, or wrestling.
AryaAstrolia said...
Mar. 16, 2013 at 11:07 am
I do think that competiotive cheerleading is a sport but side line footfall cheerleading is degrading, sexist, and just doesn;t look good.
Bubbles replied...
Jul. 23, 2013 at 8:32 am
sideline cheerleading is onl sexist dependin on the coaches.. you cant blame the girls if the coach sas do it we have to do o we can quit!!
mshipley said...
Mar. 15, 2013 at 7:58 pm
no theatre should not be a sport! what physical activity do u do when acting? basically none! in a play peope just walk around repeating words thay have memorized  but cheerleading on the other hand is all obout physical activiy in one of my cheerleading practices (which are anywhere from an hour and a half to 3 hours long) we tumble like in gymnastics which is an olympic sport, we jump, we lift people in the air then throw them and dance then at the end we condition and sometimes as my tea... (more »)
Mikaylalynxo said...
Mar. 12, 2013 at 2:21 pm
Cheerleading is absolutely a sport and anyone who fails to believe that it is not is extremely ignorant. Did you not read the article above? Cheerleading follows every guideline there is to being a sport. I have been cheering my entire life and I have suffered significantly more injuries than any football player, hockey player or any other sport play I know. It is extremely dangerous and physically straining. To anyone who believes cheerleading is not a sport, I challenge you to try and get out ... (more »)
sports4life said...
Mar. 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm
This is an excelent article. Very well written and very persuasive. I can see that cheerleading is a very intense, hard activity. (I could most definently never be able to do any of it.) However, I do not recognize it as a sport. Here's why. In 1972 Richard Nixion enacted a law called Title IX. It protects the rights of  people of both genders (although mostly women) to play sports. Basically if you are a girl and you want to play a sport your school has to either create a girls team or... (more »)
Bobcatforlife said...
Mar. 3, 2013 at 11:53 pm
Although it is a good cite, next time you should use a source other than a cheer organization to prove cheer is a sport. It is like asking football fans if football is awesome. It is just biased.
beachychick said...
Dec. 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm
Thank you!!! Cheerleading is very much a sport. We work sometimes 15-16 hours a week and keep up with our grades. We lift and toss people in the air, we dance, jump and tumble for two minutes straight, and we have to stick to all these rules and regulations that make routines very tough.
Cheerleader4life said...
Dec. 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm
cheering is deffintely a sport!! in fact its gonna be in the 2016 olympics. and to get into the olympics it has to be a SPORT right? well then it is. I'd like to see half the people saying it isnt a sport do what we do everyday. oh and btw love this post :)
0DraconianDevil said...
Nov. 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm
I completely agree. I'm in marching band (YES it is a sport) and I have spent a lot of time being annoyed about the fact that people call sideline a sport and not what we do. But competition? That is IMPRESSIVE.
StandoffSteak replied...
Jan. 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm
No offence to you, but marching band is definetelly not a sport. I'd agree that competitive marching is difficult and while not everyone can do it, it is not a sport. More than anything its a competition. The guide lines mentioned above work for defining sports but a rule such as that needs to be flexible. Not a solid thing. When me and my brother hit each other with pool noodles in the pool its testing our abilities against one another. Is it a sport? No. On the topic of the article I think... (more »)
komackatack said...
Oct. 23, 2012 at 12:47 am
no type of cheerleading is a sport, cheerleaders don't even lead cheers, they play dubstep and do some stupid dance between plays. cheering isn't in the olympics for a reason, its not a sport, its a way for non-athletic girls to feel important, like most softball players, there are some softball athletes, however a lot of them are just obese and cant do anything else, if a girl weighs 260 pounds and her only purpose is to hit homeruns then she's no athlete, back to cheer, if cheer is... (more »)
CocoPuff replied...
Jan. 4, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Hey Umm, Cheer is a sport. have you ever fell straight on your head from 6 feet in the air? Or lift a girl compltetly in the air with only your to hands by her feet? We do expended about of training and everything. If your saying cheer isn't a sport because it isn't in the Olympics then neither is football. Football isn't in there. The reason both arnt is because but enough countries do it. A lot of people say cheer is easy... It isn't. I've broken bones, Spraned stuff, Been ... (more »)
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