You've probably heard the question asked, "Is Cheerleading a Sport?" The YourDictionary.com defines the word "sport" in the following way:
- An activity or pastime that gives enjoyment
- A competitive activity requiring bodily exertion; sometimes carried on as a profession
Based on the description above, many cheerleaders, coaches and parents would shout a hearty yes that cheerleading is a sport.
The Debate About Competitions: Is Cheerleading A Sport?
Since the definition of a sport is a physical activity engaged in competitively, cheerleading would most assuredly fall into the sport category. Although cheerleading wasn't always the sport it is today, it has morphed into a highly competitive sport combining gymnastics, dance and stunting. Not only are cheerleaders expected to be fit enough to perform at games for their school's sports teams (typically basketball and football), they often travel to competitions around the country geared specifically for cheer squads.
Competitions often include not just a basic cheer routine, but stunts such as jumps, tosses and pyramids. Not only are these routines physically demanding, they can be dangerous at times. Today's cheerleaders have to be in top physical shape and alert to stay safe while performing these routines.
Why Some Don't Believe Cheerleading Is a Sport
Even though many squads do compete at least part of the time, not all cheerleading squads go to competitions. Some cheer for their school teams exclusively. Since they are not engaged in competition in these cases, cheerleading is not officially seen as a sport by many. Until the majority of cheer squads compete at least part of the time, cheerleaders may fight an uphill battle to have their skills recognized as a sport by local school systems. This doesn't change the fact that many cheerleaders are in even better shape than the members of the teams they are cheering for.
In the past ten to twenty years, cheerleading has gone through a huge transition. In addition to having a great personality and good jumps, many squads require tumbling ability, stunts and extreme flexibility. Competitions such as the USASF Cheerleading and Dance World Championships, as aired on ESPN, have helped cheerleading to gain recognition as the sport it truly is. By showcasing the talents of the top cheer squads around the nation, people can see the effort, dedication and skill that go into performing one of these intensely physical and demanding cheer routines.
Although not all squads compete, the push is toward more and more squads attending competitions. Many already recognize cheering as a sport, even if some schools and officials are not yet there. However, many other schools do support their squads both financially and emotionally, cheering their victories and sending them to competitions in their local region and beyond.
Safety Concerns Over Cheerleading
Some proponents of making cheerleading an official sport feel that it would lead to more stringent safety standards. For example, if coaches were certified they would be required to take certain safety training courses to help with tumbling and stunting. This in turn could prevent some of the accidents that are always a danger with any sport that demands physical endurance and intense activity. Whether a squad is up to competition level or not, safety should be a priority for the well-being of the cheerleaders.
Additional Articles on Whether Cheering Is a Sport
There are many articles online about cheerleading regarding whether or not it is a sport.
The Debate Goes On
As you can see, there are as many who think cheerleadining is a sport as those who think it isn't. Whichever side of the fence you fall on, there seems to be a consensus that cheerleading takes a lot of skill and physical ability. Feel free to weigh in with your opinion in the comments box below.