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.

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This article has 487 comments.

Cheerlious said...
on Aug. 31 2012 at 10:58 am
Cool artical i guess!!!!

loveforcheer said...
on Aug. 1 2012 at 8:33 am
Why isn't it a sport though? You can't just not defend your answer...

loveforcheer said...
on Aug. 1 2012 at 8:31 am
Just because it's based on opinions, doesn't mean it's less of a sport. Gymnastics and diving is based on opinions and yet it's a sport. Cheerleaders may not have contact with other teams, but you know what they have a lot of contact with one another, especially when they toss people up in the air. Look up "Basket Toss" on Youtube, try doing it with your friends and maybe you will think otherwise.

loveforcheer said...
on Aug. 1 2012 at 8:26 am
It's like gymnastics and diving. They're sports and yet the score is not based on concrete events. And yet, they're sports and are in the olympics. I don't understand why you need concrete events to consider an activity as intense as cheerleading, a sport.

KVBraund said...
on Jul. 24 2012 at 12:48 pm

It's quite simple really. Not all 'sports' require direct competition to be considered a sport, take gymnastics for example.


As for your second point.. erm have you seen cheerleaders abs, biceps and core strength? Needless to say, cheerleading would prepare you for the army for more than any other female sport. Not to mention the pain - trust me, we go through a lot of it. We're used to it, not prissy jerks.

Kelcheers said...
on Jul. 18 2012 at 4:33 pm

What would we say?

"R-U-N! Run around that track again!"

Kelcheers said...
on Jul. 18 2012 at 4:25 pm
Gymnastics and ice skating are also scored by a panel of judges, and they're Olympic sports! Just because your favorite sport is based on a ball going through a hoop or crossing over a line doesn't mean every sport must be that way.

addison said...
on Jul. 16 2012 at 9:29 am
technically by your logic gymnastics wouldnt me a sport then..

jp87 said...
on Jul. 11 2012 at 1:50 pm
Ryan you're definition of a sport based on the point scoring system it uses is flawed. Cheerleading (much like gymnastics, diving and many others) is scored by a judge but the score that is given is not as subjective as people seem to think. These sports are marked on a very strict system which awards for execution and skill lever etc. The points and deductions are standardized and skills and moves are given numerical values in terms of difficulty. Thus saying that a different panel would produce a different outcome is not accurate. Obviously there is room for human error which means that there is some subjectivity but that is true of any sport. How many times have sports commentators or angry fans disagreed with a referee's decision in a football match about who touched who where and who was offside...?

on Jul. 10 2012 at 2:20 pm
I have been a cheerleader since i was 7 years old, i can understand how sideline cheering is not a sport. Sideline cheer however does require alot of practice. but its not competing for anything, we're just there to cheer on our team, nothing wrong with sideline cheer not being a sport. as a sideline cheerleader. i feel like i'm an athlete as much as some one who plays football or basketball. I practice almost everyday of the week and i give everything i have to it. me and my teammates are dedicated to something that people claim isnt even a sport. i think thats a true athlete. :) so i guess im proud not have a sport. 

Cheer_Diva said...
on Jun. 27 2012 at 12:27 am
Look, I do both competitive cheer and normal cheerleading. And I have to admit. Cheerleading is NOT a sport. You can believe it is. I do. It is not officially considered a sport although it should be. It meets all the things that it needs to be a sport. But it was never declared as a sport. Although, cheerleaders ARE athletes. No Hate

Leazia said...
on Jun. 25 2012 at 9:31 am
Thats on opinion. Sorry but you can't speak for everyone/

Leazia said...
on Jun. 25 2012 at 9:29 am
What part of cheerleading doesn't make it a sport. Girls work themselves like crazy to please the judges and fans. If we combine different sports into cheerleading why cant it be a sport??

on Jun. 7 2012 at 2:13 pm
walkergirl101 BRONZE, Mason, Michigan
2 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
Don't Worry About Tommorow, For Tommorow will bring its own worries.

When I think of sports I think of players or teams playing against the other to win points or scores of some sort. 

Although To cheerlead requires training in cardiovascular, flexibility and muscular fitness, regular cheerleading is simply encouraging their school team. But again the training before cheerleading is like any other sport because it helps one to become physically active.

Now as for competitive cheerleading, I see that that as a sport. 

on May. 28 2012 at 12:36 pm
tell me why cheerleading isnt a sport because the meaning of sport is.. activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or like to see you do flips and tricks. ok,if cheer isnt a sport why is it on espn!

on May. 28 2012 at 12:32 pm
Cheerleading is a sport because the definition of sport is... activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others. Dont judge a cheerleader by movies youve seen. Id like to see you do jumps and flips.ok

on May. 28 2012 at 12:29 pm
Cheerleading is in fact a sport because could you do flips or jumps like that. the definition of sport is  activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others. You tell me did that change your mind.?

christianp said...
on May. 21 2012 at 4:26 pm
its obvious its not a sport, any guy will say its not and you CHEER for other teams! if you are talking about Allstar then yes possibly but cheerleading is not a sport and the american government says its not

on May. 14 2012 at 6:15 pm
laurenmay123 GOLD, Chico, California
15 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"History doesn't repeat itself. Perhaps it..rhymes."

Competetive cheerleading's a sport; any other kind of cheerleading's not. It's that simple.

on May. 14 2012 at 1:09 pm

My sister is a competitive cheerleader and no one knows how hard they work more than her and I. She practices 4 days a week during the school week and in the summer shes at a competition every weekend and training constantly. Thanks for bringing this subject to light, because people should be able to distinguish between side line cheerleaders, and the true athletes.