Throughout the U.S., cheerleading has increased in popularity as more teens have become involved in the sport, however, the debate remains – is cheerleading a sport?
Although the growing number of cheerleaders suggest otherwise, most Americans do not consider it a sport. In addition, people fail to distinguish between sideline cheerleaders and those participating in competitions.
The goal for sideline cheerleaders is to entertain a crowd and lead them with cheers, which has no credibility when suggesting it is a sport. On the contrary, competitive cheerleading aims to win tournaments and competitions by performing routines before judges against schools and universities across the country. Therefore, competitive cheerleading is a sport.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, a sport is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Within these guidelines, cheerleading is a sport.
Cheerleading requires a great deal of physical activity, much like gymnastics. Both require athletes to perform acrobatics such as back flips, lifts and tosses. Furthermore, in cheerleading bases are formed in various positions to throw fliers in the air, which require strength and teamwork.
In order to make a team, cheerleaders must participate in an array of tryouts in which athletes must meet a series of physical requirements regarding skills and fitness.
Cheerleading is a team sport that demands cooperation and synchronization. Therefore, cheerleaders work just as hard as other athletes.
Nonetheless, most argue cheerleading is not a sport because there is no use of a ball or object. However, recognized sports such as boxing, wrestling and swimming are acknowledged without the usage of balls.
Recently, competitive cheerleading has risen in popularity and its respect as a sport should increase as well. Cheerleading is physically demanding as it requires participants to compete to declare a winner with the usage of skills, much the same principles as other sports.
Although the majority of cheerleading squads do not focus on competitive cheerleading, cheerleaders are nonetheless exceptional athletes. In order to perform their activities, cheerleaders must be as strong, poised, and flexible as any dancer or gymnast.
Under Title IX regulations, which states there must be an equal amount of sports offered for male and female athletes, an activity is considered a sport if it has coaches, practices, competitions during a precise season and a governing organization. The activity must also have competition as its primary focus – not solely the support of other athletic teams.
Within such framework, competitive cheerleading is an emerging acrobatic sport. Cheerleading would change the face of women’s sports if accepted by all major governing sports organizations.
It is time to dismiss the stereotype that cheerleaders are merely women in skirts supporting athletic teams and recognize the athletic, academic and financial opportunities that participation in competitive cheerleading can offer athletes and their universities.