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 Feb. 7 2018 at 11:42 am
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I cannot verify if you are gorgeous, but I can say that you are probably narcissistic.

alsou BRONZE said...
on Sep. 19 2017 at 7:28 pm
alsou BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
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Favorite Quote:
everything will work out in the end!!!! if it's not working out, it is Not the end

wow!!!!!! i love this so much!!!!! such an important issue to address!!!!!!

on Sep. 17 2017 at 8:15 pm
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My senior year of high school I spent two hundred dollars on a cheerleading uniform and that was only the beginning of the expenses to come. The most common argument around cheerleading is rather or not it is a sport. The problem is that the definition of a sport is extremely vague and open to an infinite number of interpretations. Seeing as nobody can agree on the definition of a sport the argument of rather or not it is one is an impossible to win. It’s about time that we stopped focusing on a futile argument and bring our attention to what really matters. Should a student be required to pay hundreds of dollars to participate in a school sanctioned extracurricular activity. Cheer teams all over the country struggle with getting the proper funds they need to purchase safety equipment and participate in competitions. Why do schools view Cheerleading as something with little to no value, and therefore not worthy of funding? When a school holds a game for basketball or football they charge for admission. This is one of the reasons that schools can validate giving these types of teams finding in the first place, because they feel as if they are being reimbursed to some extent. The value that a Cheer team brings to a school is not as obvious as admission fees, but that doesn’t mean they are worthless. Cheerleaders are expected to attend games year-round to support every team from track to football. While it may be true that the cheerleading team is not the reason that most people come to the games, they still play a big part in the overall experience. They are working hard throughout the entire game just like whichever team they are there to support. They don’t even get a break during half-time because they are expected to prepare a new performance each week. These performances are free of cost to the school of course. Cheerleading teams are expected to perform several tasks over the course of the year without question or any sort of reimbursement for their hard work or commitment. These responsibilities vary from school to school but the ones I experienced the most of were pep rallies and assemblies, regardless of rather or not they correlated to sports in any way. Does the fact that Cheer teams are often viewed as free labor and entertainment for the school really not validate any funding being put into their program in return? Despite everything they do for the school Cheer teams are still subjected to having to struggle with coming up with necessary funds.Even to this day I can clearly remember every moment of my first cheer camp. It was a mentally and physically exhausting weekend, but those three days were easily responsible for some of my best memories of cheer. The problem, it costs over a hundred and fifty dollars for each girl to attend and that was only for three days. Camps and other similar functions are the best way for teams to get a chance to advance and learn new skills, but like most things they are not free. Many teams choose to participate in competitions which bring along with them entry and travel fees. Perhaps these things might seem like they are not all that important because a team doesn’t have to choose to participate in camps or competition, but what about the basic things they use every day. It is extremely difficult to master a new stunt without mats to practice on, and can even result in serious injury to one or more team members. It is also not uncommon for schools to hire coaches who are not certified to teach things like stunts and tumbling because their salaries are going to be lower than those who are. Why is it acceptable to cut corners on something as essential as providing a safe environment for cheerleaders to practice, while at the same time doling out enough money for the entire basketball team to eat out at fancy restaurants after every tournament regardless of how well they perform.Perhaps it would be different if cheer was considered a sport, but being labeled an official sport is little more than a fancy title. While people continue to focus on this title, or lack thereof, cheer teams, especially those at the high school and collegiate level, struggle with gaining not only respect for all their hard work and dedication, but also the funding they so desperately need. All because educational institutions do not see their value and feel as if spending money on them would only be a waste in the long run. The dynamic of school activities and sports is different at every school but my high school cheer team was more successful than the football team ever was. Cheer teams provide constant support and endless dedication to their schools, but that isn’t money. A successful cheer team can bring not only the winnings from any competitions they participate in but also the support of the community. Which can bring the school donations from community. However, none of these things are possible if they are too busy trying to come up with thousands of dollars every year.

EllaJS BRONZE said...
on Jul. 3 2017 at 10:52 pm
EllaJS BRONZE, La Crosse, Wisconsin
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As a member of a show choir (a sport involving singing and dancing at the same time), I am so glad you're bringing this issue to light in your article. Very well-written.

on Mar. 15 2017 at 3:45 pm
That's like saying, "well I can kick a ball so soccer isn't a sport!1!21". Your argument is really stupid. And you even said yourself that you've never seen a cheerleader in action, so you kinda just proved yourself wrong. Side line cheerleading is not a sport, that is a fact, but look up competitive cheer routines (look up Cheer Athletics Cheetahs, for example). You can't do any of that. And I can play soccer, but that doesn't mean it isn't a sport. Your argument is invalid. Competitive cheer is a sport because it's physical, you're competiting against other teams, and there's a strict set of rules everyone must follow. We're all very sorry that your brain is too small to accept simple facts. (:

Arti.M BRONZE said...
on Feb. 24 2017 at 2:21 am
Arti.M BRONZE, Tirana, Other
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Great article. Even though they make lots of stunts it is debatable if it is a sport or it isn't.

MyaEH said...
on Feb. 16 2017 at 4:15 pm
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i agree, it is a sport. are people too ignorant to admit some girls in skirts and tops are possibly better and stronger and have a more difficult sport than them?

on Feb. 11 2017 at 3:57 pm
C.E.Roth BRONZE, Waxhaw, North Carolina
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Favorite Quote:
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How are you really sure football is a valid sport? The only way something becomes a "valid" sport is if enough people believe it is. Anything is debatable, but the proof here supports that cheer leading is as strenuous and competitive as any other activity. And heck, I'm not even a cheerleader.

on Feb. 2 2017 at 2:43 pm
cheerleader.since.5.years, Mancelona, Michigan
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Excuse me i'm gorgeous

_im_dora_ said...
on Jan. 24 2017 at 6:01 pm
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Cheerleading isn't a sport bc None of my family is a cheerleader neither am I and me and my sisters can lift eachother up and we all can jump off eachothers hands and do a backflip then land it and we can do front flips and land them and nun of us have seen a real cheerleader in action and nun of us are cheerleaders and we don't say we have "skills" we say we have a cool HOBBY

Jayden said...
on Dec. 20 2016 at 10:32 pm
Have you ever seen one of these "ugly virgin girls" in action? Don't be so quick to judge when I can assure you that they can do a lot more than you. I know this because you wouldn't have commented that if you were ever a cheerleader. We put in just as much time, teamwork, and dedication as any football player or basketball player. Think before you open your ugly virgin mouth next time.

BAh28719 said...
on Oct. 14 2016 at 4:08 pm
@sambest12498 thank you for your opinion. Although you may think comparing cheerleading and marching band is a good idea to go against the views of cheerleading as a sport. Maybe you should consider focusing on the similarities lead them both to be sports. Marching band is in fact much more than going to football games as is cheerleading, so next time don't immediately say cheerleading is not a sport.

BAh28719 said...
on Oct. 14 2016 at 4:08 pm
@sambest12498 thank you for your opinion. Although you may think comparing cheerleading and marching band is a good idea to go against the views of cheerleading as a sport. Maybe you should consider focusing on the similarities lead them both to be sports. Marching band is in fact much more than going to football games as is cheerleading, so next time don't immediately say cheerleading is not a sport.

NotAVirgin said...
on Oct. 14 2016 at 3:50 pm
@YouAreAVirgin It's sad that your pettiness from being a virgin yourself makes you write an invalid comment with no support to it:(

NotAVirgin said...
on Oct. 14 2016 at 3:50 pm
@YouAreAVirgin It's sad that your pettiness from being a virgin yourself makes you write an invalid comment with no support to it:(

on Oct. 6 2016 at 2:56 pm
@cheerleader1999 football players don't just "throw" a ball around.

on Sep. 23 2016 at 12:20 pm
Arturo851 BRONZE, Pasco, Washington
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dude is a savage

on Sep. 22 2016 at 12:38 pm
JuiceyValencia BRONZE, Pasco, Washington
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Favorite Quote:
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You're my hero

hellohello said...
on Aug. 18 2016 at 2:20 pm
Yes, cheerleading is without a doubt a sport. It is really hard with all the flips and stunts.

on Aug. 18 2016 at 2:18 pm
Nice article, but it's still very debatable. How are you sure that cheeringleading is a valid sport?