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 486 comments.


on Aug. 13 2010 at 6:05 pm
I agree same with my team. we have won sectionals 7 times and counting. not just a oranary person can do a toe touch or round off backhandspring or a kick twist basket toss. takes skill. i bet if people try that they'd hurt themselves cuz they dont got the skill as a cheerleader!

flmscheer said...
on Aug. 12 2010 at 5:20 pm
i completly agree

sportsfan said...
on Jun. 19 2010 at 7:04 am
Cheerleading is a sport and a dangerous one at that. It's evolved into gymnastics over the years. Penn and Teller opened my eyes about this one. I think what you all should do is get together change the name. Maybe start calling it something like "fan coaching" or something that would better descirbe the difficult effort and danger invovled. Those who say its not a sport are simply stooges for the unimorm suppliers. Watch Penn and Teller on this. Googd luck. 

on May. 16 2010 at 8:29 pm
okay, well I am a cheerleader, and I believe all cheerleading is a sport. Imma varsity high school cheerleader. which means i do side-line cheers. we stunt and tumble and have competions like the competitive cheerleading teams. we don't just cheer and get the crowd pumped up, we stunt, jump, and tumble.

breiteliza said...
on May. 16 2010 at 12:42 am
breiteliza, Mundelein, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
I totally agree with you. My sister and I are both cheerleaders. She is a junior in high school. She bruised her talus bone (stunting shes a flyer) and was on crutches for 5 months and a boot for 2 months. She dislocated her elbow (tumbling) she had to sit out for 2 months till she was cleared and she still has to wear a brace to tumble and sprained her ankle (jumping) and was on crutches soph. year for a month and a half and now has to wear an ankle brace on both of her ankles. This year (junior year) Her stunts felt really shaky before the game and it was about to start and she told the coach she didn't feel comfortable doing it and the coach just said "If you don't want to do it fine, just turn in your uniform." So she did it and fell and she bruised a bone in her back, and had a concussion that wasn't cleared until last month. The only thing that saved her from being paralyzed was her staying tight and preparing for them to catch her. She will feel these injuries for the rest of her life. Next year she'll be a senior and the coach says no one can be on varsity without a backhandspring, she doesn't have a backhandspring but how can they expect her to! She has a bad elbow, 2 bad ankles, and a bad back. If they don't put her on varsity senior year were gonna have to talk to the school about this. I think she diserves to be on varsity, shes an excellent cheerleader, and its her last year. If they refuse to put her on varsity we'll sue for neglagence, her coach wasn't watching them when my sister fell on the track at a football game, she didn't talk to us when we came to get her and ride with her in the ambulence, she didn't call us while we sat in the ER waiting, she didn't call us the next morning either, she got angry because my sister wasn't a practice. The worst part. The girls who didn't bother to catch her DID NOT GET PUNNISHED AT ALL. Its ridiculous. We need cheerleading to be considered a sport so we can have certain safety requirements. We need trained coaches, and safety requirements, and levels of progression. Too many people are getting hurt. Its getting to a point where steps need to be taken to make sure cheerleaders are safe. Believe me I would love to do that cool not stunt at competiton and wow the judges, but later in life its not going to matter if someones life is forever ruined because of an injury. WE NEED STRUCTURE to prevent major injuries. WE NEED PROPER TRAINING of coaches and cheerleaders. With out it too many peoples lives will be destroyed by injuries suffered by cheerleading. Great cheers no more tears.

on Apr. 27 2010 at 10:30 pm
Kristy_loves_Keats PLATINUM, Arvada, Colorado
23 articles 0 photos 99 comments
i beleave all cherrleading is a sport!!! and i hate cherrleaders so thats weaird


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