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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This article has 482 comments. Post your own now! said...
Feb. 18, 2016 at 11:42 pm
I agree. I find school cheerleading a competitive cheerleading to be very different. I used to e in competitive cheerleading and it takes a lot of work. Makes people actually think if cheerleading is a sport. Great poem.
JWALK said...
Feb. 18, 2016 at 1:47 pm
I completely agree. When I try to explain to my school's cheerleaders they do not agree. Cheering on the side lines of other athletic events takes zero athleticism. Competitive cheerleading seriously blows my mind. The athleticism involved is intensive and it takes hard work to actually be able to perform the stunts they've learned.
Mia7789 said...
Feb. 18, 2016 at 10:56 am
Awesome! Very informative, and I definitely agree wit the subject matter.
cheerleading is dumb said...
Feb. 7, 2016 at 6:14 pm
cheerleading should not be a sport all they do is cheer and are annoying s
Justdont replied...
Mar. 29, 2016 at 3:11 pm
Great! Thanks for your opinion!
ilovecheer3646 replied...
May 23, 2016 at 11:23 am
oh really,well i would like to see you do half of the level one a level six and i manage to keep straght A s all while doing a double twist into a full,so do us all a favor and stfu
juliacoccaro This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 5, 2016 at 9:49 pm
I agree with this article wholeheartedly. Competitive cheerleading takes a TON of work and time. I've been to several competitive cheerleading competitions, including Worlds in Disneyworld. (I'm not a cheerleader myself, I just like to watch.) But on the sidelines, I can't see how that's a sport at all. An activity, sure, but waving pom-poms and being able to yell loud doesn't quite qualify as athletic ability.
CianaB said...
Jan. 15, 2016 at 3:51 pm
I believe cheerleading is a sport. In my opinion, an sport is anything that requires athletic ability. The definition of a sport is "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment." Based on the definition, dance, marching band, and cheerleading are all sports. And no matter how much you argue, cheerleading and dance(ballet in particular) both require more athletic ability then golf.
carly_crochet said...
Nov. 5, 2015 at 9:53 am
I am a cheerleader, and I enjoy cheerleading. I agree that cheer is a sport because it is hard working alike other sports such as football and basketball. I also agree that most people do think it is a sport because our "only job to entertain the crowd," but we are more than just "flirts in skirts."
Jotai said...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 10:58 am
I'm Not taking any sides but in my own opinion, Cheerleading is not a sport. Yeah sure,you tumble and you Compete but what's the point? You don't get trophy for it. In my eyes, a sport is an activity in which you can get a trophy. I'm not cutting Cheerleading down, it does take physical skill, but it usually doesn't involve trophies or winning.
jaydahhowell replied...
Nov. 18, 2015 at 9:18 am
@Jotai I'm a competitive cheerleader and first of all we do get trophies. and also we get banners and medals. And its not always about getting a trophy it's about hitting a perfect routine and knowing you couldn't of done anything better. so if your gonna base a sport off of winning a trophy then you need to consider cheerleading a sport
icheer21 replied...
Jan. 28, 2016 at 12:55 pm
@Jotai im also a competitive cheerleader. @jaydahhowell is right! we get banners, trophys and medals. but its not all about winning! cheer is a sport and i know this because i have been a cheerleader for 2 and a half years now. there is literally blood sweat and tears going into this sport,i think it is sad that you can not see all the dedication and work us athletes put into cheer.
ilovecheer3646 replied...
May 23, 2016 at 11:25 am
yes we do win trophies,but also think about this,im a pop warner cheerleader and our compitions are aired on ESPN, a SPORTS channel.
Tyrell15 said...
Oct. 27, 2015 at 11:43 am
I'm a cheer and I feel cheer is a sport because we do the same as football players and other competitive sports..we compete..we run and tumble we are very active it's funny how so many people talk down on cheer....I wanna see most people got out there and cheer and see if you survive because I'm pretty sure you won''s not an easy sport there much more to it...competitive cheer is a lot of work we condition we just don't yell we are trained as real athletes so... (more »)
ilovecheer3646 replied...
May 23, 2016 at 11:28 am
i agree with Tyrell15 completly just want to add somthing,we respect your sport,why not respect ours?
ScarletCity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 14, 2015 at 4:32 pm
My personal opinion is that Cheer is not a sport. What I consider a sport is something that has a ball (Basketball, football, soccer, etc.), something that is in the Olympics (Diving, figure skating, chariot racing, etc.), or that has physical defense (Martial arts, football, soccer, etc.). Although, I do respect the cheerleaders out there, I do not consider it a sport because it does not fall anywhere within these 'Rules.' This also means that dance and marching band are not sports, but golf is.
Jotai replied...
Nov. 4, 2015 at 10:53 am
What about Cross-Country?
mgreenp replied...
Jan. 7, 2016 at 1:08 am
heres the thing, cheer is a sport made of other sports...such as gymnastics (and this is in the olympics just fyi) with other twists on it that add difficulty such as the stunting we have to do etc. ...just something to think about. also look up the definition of a sport, it doesn't have any of these "rules" those are made up my friend
LoneWolfforever said...
May 30, 2015 at 2:31 am
But is it actually a sport? a marching band is not a sport, dancing isn't a sport> It's an activity right ?
Maryk replied...
May 30, 2015 at 10:35 am
Marching Band and Cheer leading are physical forms of art just like dance and music.
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