Cheerleading is a Sport | Teen Ink

Cheerleading is a Sport MAG

By Renee R., Arlington Heights, IL

     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.

Similar Articles


This article has 487 comments.

on 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.

on Jan. 17 2013 at 1:58 am
Cheer_Diva: you say cheerleaders are athletes, and athletes do sports, yet you still say cheerleading isn't a sport. I don't understand what you're trying to convey. Another thing--a physical activity isn't only a sport if it's recognized as one. Dance, for example, is an art form, but also a sport. It takes years of training to perfect a style of dance, and they are very fit. So yes, dance is a sport. If poker can be a sport (I despise this fact), then cheerleading, and actual physical activity, can be too.

on Jan. 17 2013 at 1:49 am
Wow. You are truly ignorant, and your comments are very disrespectful  to many people. You know that if you don't have anything nice to say then you shouldn't say anything at all. Everyone may be entitled to their own opinion, but you were just being unnecessarily rude.

on 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 that determining whether or not cheerleading is a sport is left up entirely to personal opinion, and that certain things shouldn't be knocked until their tried. Being in band, I have had enough personal expierence to make the decesion that I did, but in my opinion marching band is definetelly not a sport.

CocoPuff said...
on 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 in the hospital because of it, but I won't quit. I love it. Its a sport. Its a lot harder then most people think. Next time you try to to say this, get your facts right. Come to a cheer pratice and see all the shit we go through, The punishments and everything. 

on Dec. 30 2012 at 3:37 pm
beachychick BRONZE, Grass Valley, California
2 articles 3 photos 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
Perfection is not doing everything perfectly all the time, perfection is being able to look in the mirror and say at you tried everything you could- you've given it your all, you've done everything you can to make yourself better. That is perfection

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.

on 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 :)

on Nov. 30 2012 at 4:17 pm
Danielle101 SILVER, Ocala, Florida
5 articles 0 photos 7 comments
I'm not a cheerleader, by no means. My sport happens to be softball. But I have friends that are sideline cheerleaders, and they put just as much effort into cheerleading as I do with softball. Keep telling yourself it's a sport, because it very much is. No matter what people say.

on 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.

komackatack said...
on 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 a sport, then so is playing xbox

on Oct. 21 2012 at 12:31 pm
SarahHarmon GOLD, Lawrenceville, New Jersey
11 articles 1 photo 48 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I have learned that people will forget what you did, people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel." ~Maya Angelou

Volleybal/cheergirl um, the national spelling bee is on espn too. Otherwise, I agree that competitive cheer is a sport.

peyton99 said...
on Oct. 18 2012 at 11:28 am
i truly belive that cheer is a sport and it should be a sport

on Oct. 12 2012 at 8:45 pm
theatregirl PLATINUM, Lathrup Village, Michigan
30 articles 12 photos 212 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To thine own self be true," -from Hamlet, a play by Shakespeare.
"I have sworn on the altar of god eternal hostility against all forms of tyranny over the mind of man." - Thomas Jefferson

I like your resoning. However, if cheerleading is sport, then Theater, Ballet, and Playing should sport. (

anonymous said...
on Oct. 8 2012 at 3:14 pm
CHEERLEADING IS DEFINITELY A SPORT. IN FACT, IT'S THE MOST DANGEROUS SPORT IN THE WORLD. You throw people in the air and catch them. If you don't that person will be dead. Cheerleading is basically the mix of ballet, gymnastics and dance. It's very complicated. WE MAY LOOK CUTE IN A SKIRT, BUT THIS IS VIOLENT.

cheergirl101 said...
on Oct. 4 2012 at 4:49 pm
i am 16 and have cheered for 10 years cheer is definetley a sport u work and train the same or maybe even harder than any sport u may not play against another team but it is a sport!!!

blarp said...
on Sep. 20 2012 at 6:33 pm
pretty girls/short skirts, i think its a sport

cheer247 said...
on Sep. 12 2012 at 12:39 pm
ok so I have been in my fair share of arguments on this topic. I have competitively cheered for the past 8 years. the body control and discipline it takes to cheer CANNOT be compared to ANY sport. tell me what sport requires your body to be in overdrive for over 3 minutes with no cease. Flipping your body up off the ground that some people could only ever dream of attempting and throwing others 10 feet in the air just to safely catch them again. football players, basketball players etc, work very hard BUT they might go in for a few plays then theyre back on the sidelines taking a break not to mention the rest they get berween plays. Honestly though, I think this argument is a little tired. Me, being a competitive cheerleader for 8 years, would rather cheerleading NOT be a sport, shocking I know right? But just hear me out. we would have less of this rediculous, pointless banter. and also in the state of Florida, at least, but im sure it applies in other states, when we were recognized as a sport, they started making all these rules, telling us we couldnt do certain tricks tumbling and stunts because they were "too dangerous" this doesnt allow cheerleading to reach its full potential or allow cheerleaders to excel. but people can say what they want, all I now is there is no greater feeling than stepping out on that mat with a team that you love and the rush of hitting a perfect routine that took months of practice. I dont care what anyone says. to each his own. Do what you LOVE. and I love cheerleading.

on Sep. 11 2012 at 2:21 pm
FYI AndriaStar Cheerleading score ARE based on points, not just opinion! Did you read the article at all?? The routine's jumps, stunts, tumbling and cheers are rated on scales of either 1-10 or 1-5(it all depends), and how each of those things are preformed is how they are rated. If someone falls from a stunt, the score for that set of stuntsis lowered. That doesn't sound like opinion to me! And so what if you don't have contact with other teams, neither does Gymnastics (or the army). And if you say that that isn't a sport, I don't know what is! The Army may be more challenging or harder than cheer, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a sport! And how does cheer not prepare you for the army? You have to be strong and flexible, you have to have really good endurance, and you have to memorize a complicated routine. But I do agree with SOME cheerleaders being prissy jerks though ;)

Boring said...
on Sep. 10 2012 at 9:58 pm
Everybody at my school hates the cheerleaders. Not because they are popular (they are in fact very unattractive and unpopular) but because they are annoying and quite bad. Half the team is made up of middle school girls who look garish wearing too much makeup. Somehow our team did very well in the national cheerleading competition last year (in the non tumbling division). Even after they won the whole school either ignored it or treated it as a joke.

on Sep. 10 2012 at 9:53 pm
....Volleybal/cheergirl, you do realize that this person agrees with you right? By the dictionary definition of a "sport," (what you said in your post), competetive cheerleading is a sport. Writer_Jordan agrees. However, sideline cheerleading is obviously not. Why? Quite simply, its because the cheerleaders arent competing against anyone. The competition is going on in the game (football, basketball, volleyball ect.) The cheerleaders lead the crowd in cheering. If sideline cheerleading is a sport, then spectating is also a sport.