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.

Similar Articles


This article has 490 comments.

wcatcher16 said...
on Oct. 7 2011 at 1:53 pm
i agree with you very much so! i also have been injured many times. i've seen all the broken body parts and all of that messy stuff.. people need to realize it's not as easy as we make it look. if we get hurt with performing at competition we dont just walk off we stay and finish the peformance with a smile on our face no matter how bad it hurts.

wcatcher16 said...
on Oct. 7 2011 at 1:49 pm
I am a former cheerleader. I've cheered since i was 5yrs old. i'm now 21 and stopped cheering when I graduated from high school. Cheerleading IS a sport and i'm glad someone agrees! We work very hard to do what we do. Getting ready for competitions is NOT easy at all. It's very tough especually when someone doesnt show up to practice. If anyone thinks throwing people in the air and having them come back down and land on you and not drop them is easy... They're HIGHLY wrong!! I've been a base, back spot, front spot, and flyier... All positions are very difficult. but with the safety and practice it is very enjoyable... Don't say cheerleading is easy and not a sport intill you've tried it!!!

shan222 said...
on Oct. 7 2011 at 9:33 am
ya i agree it is a very inspring story

basketball98 said...
on Oct. 7 2011 at 9:09 am
basketball98, Arcadia, Pennsylvania
0 articles 0 photos 5 comments
it is not a sport get over ur self........ 

mcarnes said...
on Oct. 3 2011 at 12:52 pm
i think that this is very true and very inspiring

bhender14 said...
on Sep. 29 2011 at 10:43 pm

i have done quite a few sports and none of them are as hard as cheerleading. cool that you can get hurt jumping on a pogo stick or whatever. its a fact that cheerleading has the most injuries im not saying i am proud that i can get hurt, i know other sports are dangerous my sister fractured her knee playing soccer.

it is just a harder sport in general.

(i dont care what you have to say so you dont have to reply)



on Sep. 29 2011 at 4:41 pm

I wasn't attacking cheerleading, I was asking why you're so proud you get injured the most. That fact in particular shouldn't be used to back up your writing. I can also injure myself by jumping on a pogo stick, or doing flips on a trampoline, but that fact in particular doesn't make it a sport. I hope that makes sense.

In the future, you (bhender14) can make statements that are true. You have no ground to stand on for either of your "defenses". Unless of course you have competitively played every sport out there, and measured the physical exertion from every single one. You also have no idea about how much I know about cheerleading. You don't know if a close friend of mine was seriously injured in cheerleading and I'm angry that you can't bear to protect yourself even a little more, or if I did cheerlead competitively, or if I have seen cheerleading before and made observations. (All of which are a lot better ways of getting information to back up statements than you have, since your accusations were totally ungrounded.)


But again, just to the author, I think you should make sure your arguments make sense before you put them in, because injury doesn't really measure what defines a sport.

bhender14 said...
on Sep. 28 2011 at 11:20 am
cheerleading is harder than any other sport and you dont know the first thing about it

morgy123 said...
on Sep. 26 2011 at 1:24 pm
Very well written! I couldn't agree more!

heather said...
on Sep. 18 2011 at 7:07 pm
I one hundred percent agree with this article I'm a senior in high school and all my cheerleading career my school gives us nothing but disrespect for our hard work. In theory eyes its nothing but a club. So its nice to read articles supporting cheerleading as a sport

wvu14 said...
on Sep. 18 2011 at 1:23 pm
I have been a gymnst, and cheerleader all through elementary school to collegite levels. And I can honestly say that Cheerleading in many ways is a sport. So I agree with this article. I know that most people only see the make-up, skirts and all the giddy girls excited to have the title of cheerleader. However, most do not see the bloody noses, busted lips, skin burn and twisted, sprained, or broken body parts. I my self have been injured more in cheeleading than I ever was while practicing on the gymnastics team. Also the competiotons are feirce. You have major rivals and so many teams will try to get another one in troube for just about anything.  So basically I would love to see half the sports teams out there try to become a family like cheerleading teams become. I would like to see them preform and do half the tumbling, jumps, stunts, dances and everything else involved all with a smile on their face..

Cheerrocks89 said...
on Sep. 16 2011 at 1:35 pm
I am a cheerleader and it takes a lot of work to do all the stunts and tumbling and jumps. Have you ever done cheerleading? its a lot of work and it takes a lot of confadence!!!

on Sep. 15 2011 at 10:40 pm
savetheplanet PLATINUM, Anaheim, California
45 articles 9 photos 564 comments

Favorite Quote:
It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

I'm sorry, since when was dance not a sport?  We work just as hard if not harder than the high school football team.  I'd like to see YOU dance Jimmy.

on Sep. 15 2011 at 12:58 pm
Freedom.ThroughPens GOLD, Alpharetta, Georgia
17 articles 0 photos 11 comments

Favorite Quote:
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” -Einstein

This is interesting because a few weeks ago, I came out with an article that said "cheerleading is not a sport." I may disagree with you on your overall point, but you nicely articulated your thoughts.

on Sep. 11 2011 at 1:47 pm
Incorrect spelling is also dangerous.

all4kix BRONZE said...
on Aug. 30 2011 at 5:13 pm
all4kix BRONZE, Seattle, Washington
3 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I do agree that cheerleading is a sport. I play volleyball and just because I can't to flips and things like that doesn't mean that it is any less of a sport. I get where you are comming from though because I dance and I don't think many people on my volleyball team would be able to to the things I do in my dance class. All sports are challenging in there own way and just because many people can't switch to a different sport and expect to do well doesn't mean that their sport is any less of one than the other.

a8787 said...
on Aug. 26 2011 at 7:36 pm
ok first of all you have to be metally strong to be able to throw people in the air and stay there to catch them even if they are going to fall on your face ,you have to trust the people on your team to do the right tjing at the right time and to give 110% everytime even if theyre tired , sore,and if they dont want to be at practice at that time

on Aug. 26 2011 at 3:52 pm
marissa87 BRONZE, Glenmoore, Pennsylvania
4 articles 3 photos 80 comments

Favorite Quote:
what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular

good!! yay haha

soldout said...
on Aug. 25 2011 at 4:44 pm
This is an interesting essay because honestly, I wouldn't immediately label "cheerleading" a sport, you know? But then I got a new perspective on how cheerleading has so many dimensions to it. I'm with you for the cheerleading in the olympics idea. It's not fair when cheerleaders that put extraordinary effort into their routines, only to be teased for participating in something so "useless". Isn't it similar to gymnastics though? And I don't think they'd call THAT useless. I think one day the world will get smarter and see that what they consider "useless" and "pretty-pretty" is a hardcore sport!

on Aug. 25 2011 at 4:10 pm
EllenVellenSpellen, Wheaton, Illinois
0 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I've never let my school interfere with my education."
Mark Twain

Good. That was my only point. I do agree with you about dancing, I just didn't like the way you put cheerleading down, (because as stated in earlier comment, cheerleaders are human and they deserve repsect like anyone else, plus dance doesn't NEED to have something else put down for it to be raised up) but that was just your odd wording, so nevermind... XD