Cheerleading is a Sport | Teen Ink

Cheerleading is a Sport MAG

By Anonymous

     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 493 comments.

on Mar. 20 2013 at 1:55 pm
like the nice hard working girl said, dont run your mouth about something you know nothing about i do allstar cheerleading, i've played basketball, baseball, football and i have never played or loved a sport more than cheerleading, and yes it is by far the hardest sport i have ever played. a couple of months ago a professional football player started teaching at my school adn told asked me what sports i played i told him allstar cheerleading. he said thats a joke and luaghed i told him to go out in the hallway of my school and see if this was a joke infront of the whole class i threw a round off handspring double full on the conrete in a hallway. how many everyday people that participate in aperantly none sport activity can do that let alone throw a girl in a backflip and catch her above your head with no help from anyone else. so many other sports depend on that one person just one person to make that shot or run to the inzone for that touchdown or hit that home run for the team. cheerleading is different we depend on eachother as a team to hit and win  

AryaAstrolia said...
on Mar. 16 2013 at 11:07 am
I do think that competiotive cheerleading is a sport but side line footfall cheerleading is degrading, sexist, and just doesn;t look good.

mshipley said...
on Mar. 15 2013 at 7:59 pm
ballet is dance...

mshipley said...
on Mar. 15 2013 at 7:58 pm
no theatre should not be a sport! what physical activity do u do when acting? basically none! in a play peope just walk around repeating words thay have memorized  but cheerleading on the other hand is all obout physical activiy in one of my cheerleading practices (which are anywhere from an hour and a half to 3 hours long) we tumble like in gymnastics which is an olympic sport, we jump, we lift people in the air then throw them and dance then at the end we condition and sometimes as my team is doing our routine my coach counts our mistakes and makes us condition for them so if we made 1 mistake we would have 5 situps if we made 2 mistakes we would have 10 situps and so on and because i have a couple of very ditzy girls on my team we have had to hold a double lunge for 2 minutes, do 100 situps, do 50 to 100 push ups, and more (we have done sprints, mountain climbers and a bunch of crazy things my coach made up) if u dont call that a sport i dont know what is. and if you still dont understand what competitive cheerleading is, you can kind of compare it to when the girls that are gymnasts in the olympics do their floor routine but faster, with more girls, and stuntng :) so for all of u idiots saying cheerleading isnt a sport re read the article from a non bias point of view and after that if you STILL dont think it isnt a sport stfu (btw this comment doesnt apply to sideline cheerleading because they dont tumble as much and it requires much less physical activity  when the sideline cheerleaders actually compete is when it beomes a sport like when they put a routine together that involves tumbling, stunting, jumping, and dancing and perform in front of judges and compete...)

on Mar. 12 2013 at 2:21 pm
Cheerleading is absolutely a sport and anyone who fails to believe that it is not is extremely ignorant. Did you not read the article above? Cheerleading follows every guideline there is to being a sport. I have been cheering my entire life and I have suffered significantly more injuries than any football player, hockey player or any other sport play I know. It is extremely dangerous and physically straining. To anyone who believes cheerleading is not a sport, I challenge you to try and get out on the mat and do what we do everyday, then tell me whether or not you still don't believe it to be a sport.

sports4life said...
on Mar. 10 2013 at 8:41 pm
This is an excelent article. Very well written and very persuasive. I can see that cheerleading is a very intense, hard activity. (I could most definently never be able to do any of it.) However, I do not recognize it as a sport. Here's why. In 1972 Richard Nixion enacted a law called Title IX. It protects the rights of  people of both genders (although mostly women) to play sports. Basically if you are a girl and you want to play a sport your school has to either create a girls team or let you have a fair try out on the boys team if there is enough interest. The law gets more complicated and goes into funding and what counts as a sport. However, it does not include cheeleading as a sport. I know this for fact after talking to the woman Bernice Sandler who first pushed for the law to begin with. Many schools though, do consider it a sport. My school does. But, legally they don't have to. Hopefully it will be petitioned to become a sport very soon. and then the government and hopefully more people will begin to agree with you. 

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 11 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 209 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.