Cheerleading not a sport

October 29, 2012 6:00 AMComments Off

Cernohous is a sophomore pharmacy major and can be reached at bailey.cernohous@drake.edu

On Aug. 7, one of the biggest debates known to mankind was finally legally resolved: cheerleading was declared not a sport by a federal appeals court.  Despite contrary belief, I am a cheerleader that agrees with this ruling. However, I do believe cheerleaders should be recognized as athletes for their activities.

I currently am a cheerleader at Drake University, and how to classify cheerleading has been a constant struggle for our athletic department.  Drake considers cheerleaders as part of the marketing department, because our job is partially to advertise the university and sports. However, we are considered athletes as well by being included in athletic fundraising and community service events.

First off, I would like to acknowledge that, yes, cheerleading is not a sport.  According to Title IX, an activity must have coaches, practices, a governing organization and competitions as its primary goal to be considered a sport.  Cheerleading’s main objective is to support other athletic teams, not compete.

Regardless of not being a sport, cheerleaders should be considered athletes and looked up to with the same awe as other college athletes do. An athlete is a person trained in physical agility, stamina or strength for exercises or contests. Even the appeals court wrote they “acknowledge record evidence showing that competitive cheerleading can be physically challenging, requiring competitors to possess ‘strength, agility, and grace.’”

Much to my dismay, I have been compared to my fraternal twin all my life.  Unfortunately for me, she is an actual college athlete by swimming for the University of Northern Colorado.  Needless to say, I have been through this debate plenty of times within my household.  Clearly our lifestyles by our activities are prominently different, but we both have about the same time commitment.  We both have practice and weight lifting all year long, even when not in season, and cannot go home for every break due to our commitments.

Just like “real” college athletes, cheerleaders are obligated to go through the same athletic protocol. We must endure weight training with a physical trainer, attend mandatory practices, maintain a 2.5 grade point average and participate in random drug tests. We are treated like athletes behind the scenes, and should be treated as such on the streets.

Next time you come across a cheerleader, do not automatically judge them by assuming they think they are above you and are in a sport. Honestly, most of us comprehend that cheerleading is not a sport, and probably never will be.  However, please make sure you respect cheerleaders and what they do. Cheerleading is not simply the act of looking pretty in front of a crowd. It endures hard work and effort. Besides, do you think you could lift and hold a girl above your head?

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