STORY BY LEX ADELMAN
To many people, cheerleading isn’t considered a sport and, as a cheerleader, I agree with them. There are several qualifications that must be met in order for an activity to be considered a sport and cheerleading does not meet these requirements.
According to the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators this is what the definition of a sport is:
• “A physical activity which involves propelling a mass through space or overcoming the resistance of a mass.”
• “Contesting” or competing against/with an opponent.”
• “Governed by the rules which explicitly define the time, space and purpose of the contest and the conditions under which a winner is declared.”
• “Acknowledged primary purpose of the competition is a comparison of the relative skills of the participants.”
While cheerleading meets the first requirement, it does not meet the rest. There is no game that can be won, as cheerleaders are providing support for those that are playing in a game.
People may argue that competitive cheer does meet all of the requirements, because of the competitive aspect. And in that case, then yes, cheerleading would be considered a sport.
But, that is not the type of cheer that I am referring to. That is not what most people think of when they think of cheerleading.
When I say that I do not think cheerleading is a sport, I am saying I do not believe that “spirit squads” meet the definition. These squads provide support and promote school spirit through performances.
However, saying that cheerleading is not a sport does not mean that cheerleaders cannot be considered athletes. I am well into my sixth year of cheerleading and I can say that I believe this activity can be harder than some other sports because of the physical requirements.
How easy is it for someone to lift a girl completely above their head, hold them there for a significant amount of time and catch them before they hit the ground? It certainly isn’t as easy as it is made to look.
All teams are different, but they are all working hard toward a goal. Just because one football team is not as good as another does not mean that those on the bad team aren’t considered athletes. I have been on squads where we had our own hell week that started before sunrise and our warm up was a two-mile timed run.
I’ve had practices that consisted of having to do our routines full out (meaning throw every stunt, jump, tumbling pass, and smile) for hours until we did everything perfectly. It gets a lot harder to smile the fifth or sixth time through. I’ve seen girls happier to hit a new stunt or get a new tumbling skill than when teams win games. We can be just as invested in our squad as other athletes are in their teams.
So, while cheerleading may not be considered a sport, cheerleaders are athletes. Next time someone tries to say that all we do is wave pompons around on the sidelines, I’ll make sure to ask them to lift me up, hold it for a while, toss me high enough to spin completely around and then catch me.
Because then people might give cheerleaders a little more respect.