Cheerleading? Hm.

In July 2010, United States District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled that cheerleading was not a sport following a debate regarding whether volleyball was more athletic than cheerleading. In this case, I agree with Underhill's ruling. Competitive cheerleading, despite some arguments, does not necessarily qualify as a sport because many factors discredit the activity. Although my school's cheerleaders have been recognized by the state for their work and effort, competitive cheerleading is not based solely on talent or on strategy and thus a sport.
In the first place, although cheerleaders earn points during competitions and events, the points don’t necessarily go towards the actual “sport” aspect of cheerleading. For example, the points earned can be very superficial. This means a judge can take off (or award) points based on their looks. Something as simple as a scruffed up knee or an out-of-place hair can automatically deduct points for the competition team.Yes, cheerleaders do earn points during a competition, but the points earned do not always reflect talent or hardwork, but rather superficial qualities. Such beauty bias has no place in the competitive sports world.

Similarily, in other sports, such as swimming or football, an athlete’s score is based on the time swum or the number of points earned, not on a subjective opinion. While subjective referee calls do have a place in many sports, rarely are they the determining factor. Cheerleading, on the other hand, is solely based upon the judges' opinions, as is the case in gymnastics and diving as well. When such opinionated calls are the only scoring factor in an activity, there is little merit to the game. Although some rules are in place to prevent this, a judge has the chance to make a very biased ruling, not at all based on the talent of the team. Such was the case during a cheerleading competition in New England. Students were penealized for a manuever not in their routine. An activity based on subjective opinions cannot be considered a sport.

Furthermore, although cheerleading does take skill and practice, the activity is based more on memorization than on strategy. If an athlete is a soccer player or football player, he or she requires a strategy to win the game. For example, in a fast-paced basketball game, players must make split-second decisions in order to win the game. Such decisions require not only athetic ability, but also mental preperation and skill mastery. In other sports, such as cross country or swimming, athletes must always come prepared to change their speed or stroke if they find that they are falling behind the other competitors. However, such strategy and mental preperation is not necessary in cheerleading. A cheerleader memorizes a dance or a routine, not a game plan. On competition day, the cheerleaders simply perform a memorized, timed-out routine. They know exactly what move they are going to do at each moment in the performance, and thus employ no strategy. Without requiring mental preperation and cunning tactics, an activity simply cannot be a sport.

Finally, if cheerleading were a sport, it would have been recognized in the Olympics or at a professional level. These professionals have dealt with athetics for years; they understand that a sport requires not only skill and hard work, but also cunning and strategy, and these officials understand that cheerleading simply does not meet those requriements. So when, professionals do not recognize cheerleading as a sport on the professional level or the Olympic level, we cannot consider this a sport. When other, more qualified professionals recognize cheerleading as a sport, I may reconsider my stance; however, until that happens, I stand by my position.

In the end, cheerleading does not require the same mental and physical preparation as other sports. The activity's merits are overshadowed by its biased judging, its superficiality, and its lack of strategy. I have to say, the judge got it right this time. Cheerleading is not a sport.





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InkSpot said...
Oct. 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I get that everyone has their own opinion and I see where you get yours but I for one think cheerleading is a sport and wanted to point out a few counter arguments.

I was a gymnast for a long time and this is my first year of cheering. And yes, cheerleading judging does have some superficial aspects but so does gymnastics which is, in fact, an Olympic sport. One hair out of place or a bra strap showing and you get a deduction. We didn't have to smile as much as cheerleaders but still, ... (more »)

 
Cheerleaderforlife said...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm
Hey girl. So I understand where your coming from and you make some very valid points, however I have been a competitive cheerleader my entire life.  I have broken many bones, had more sprains than you can count, and even a few concussions. Our practices, are long and grusome. We throw people in the air, and all though it may sound fairly simple, throwing a tripple twist aerobesque into a full down can prove to be quite difficult. We lift weights, run, and train JUST as hard as any other ath... (more »)
 
Freedom.ThroughPens This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Aug. 31, 2011 at 2:13 pm
I understand what you're saying but keep in mind this is just the opinion of one person, me! There are plenty of people who can refute this opinion like you just did and I take to heart the comments. I'm not here to say cheerleaders do nothing, I'm just here to say I don't feel it constitutes as a sport. I cannot do a backhand spring but I know you can - and you already have a one-up on me with that.
 
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