Not Just School Spirit: Cheerleading is a sport
Strength, flexibility, power, grace, balance, and agility.
Would you call an activity that used all of those characteristics a sport? Would you still call it a sport if I told you it was cheerleading? A Lot of people wouldnt which makes me think they must not know anything about it.
It used to be that cheerleading was just skirts, smiles, and leading school chants. Maybe a jump or two. Quickly though the activity evolved, unfortunately the opinions surrounding it didn’t. People still have the untrue belief that cheer is easy and that anyone can do it. And that’s only half true, but think about it if you really wanted to play football could you? Of course! But it takes a special person to be good at it. So while anyone can do it not everyone can be great at it. Some people still see cheerleading as just standing on the sidelines calling out cheers but truthfully, it has become so much more!
Now of days cheerleaders, whether they’re on a school team or otherwise, spend up to 12 hours a week doing cheer. Cheer practices are usually 4-5 days a week and last around 2 hours or more. When cheerleaders aren’t at a mandatory practice chances are they are still practicing. Whether it’s a tumbling class, stunting clinic, stretching on your own, or practicing your routine with some teammates. You will rarely find a cheerleader who spends less than 2 hours a day practicing. To be a good cheerleader you have to be dedicated.
Let me ask you this, how many times a day do you get hit or kicked hard? Maybe if you’re a boxer you have a definite answer, and maybe even if your not you, do but most likely you don’t. If you asked this question to a cheerleader they might say something like “at least once in the face and probably two or three times elsewhere.” maybe cheerleading doesn’t seem hard because it’s meant to look easy. The performances that people see that seem effortless didn’t start out that way. They took weeks to perfect! By the time you see them they are mastered and thats why they look so easy. But it took a lot of falls, a lot of hits, and a lot of hard work to make it that way.
Cheer is one risk after another and it never gets easier. If you were a star soccer player winning every game and scoring 4 goals every time, would your coach tell you didn’t need to practice anymore? Of course not! They would give you a new challenge. They would tell you go for five or try for six. It’s no different with cheerleading, once you get something theres someone or some team out there ready to do it better. That’s why cheerleaders are constantly pushing the boundaries. You need to be the best in order to impress and this sport is all about impressing.
Cheerleading has evolved into a high energy, high risk, performance sport. Between the tumbling and stunting cheer quickly topped the chart of most dangerous womens sport. That’s right, with cheerleading accounting for 65.1 percent of all catastrophic sports injuries for females in the past 25 years. In 2005 more than 28,000 cheerleaders were taken to the emergency room.
According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injuries, cheerleaders suffer more injuries resulting concussion, paralysis, and even death than any other sport. Because while most sports with a lot of contact wear protective gear such as helmets and pads, cheerleaders wear nothing. That giant bow on your head will not protect you if you fall 12 feet onto your head, neck, or back. You have no protection except for the people around you, and all you can do is hope they do their job right.
So even after all this why do people say cheerleading isnt a sport? SRV JV lacrosse player Jordan Pontious says, “there aren’t any winners or losers in cheerleading and its not like there is a score.” I beg to differ though, yes, it’s true that at football and basketball halftime performances there isn’t score and there isn’t a winner and a loser, but many high schools, such as Carondelet High School, San Ramon Valley High School, and California High School. Along with other non-school related teams, such as California All Stars, Top Gun Cheerleading, and California Spirit Elite, compete in regional, national, and for a lucky few, worldwide competitions
At those competitions there are winners and losers and yes even scores. The only difference is that is stead of just one loser or there are a lot of losers and only one winner. And the score is determined by a panel of judges using a set of rules and personal preferences to judge your performance. So in cheerleading, just like in lacrosse, or football, or baseball, there are winners, losers, rules, and a score.
So at this time i ask you, are you convinced? What makes cheerleading so different from any other activity classified as a sport? The Websters Dictionary definition of a sport is:
a. Physical activity governed by a set of rules
b. An activity that involves physical exertion and skill
Between stunting, tumbling, competing, and everything else that cheerleaders do to make themselves good, i would definitely consider it a sport!
Still not convinced? Check these videos out: