Cheerleading is one sport that is constantly belittled and looked down upon. People think as if it is not a real sport because their perception of a cheerleader is someone who prances around in a short skirt and shouts different chants followed by simple motions. However, what people fail to realize is that cheerleading is more than just prancing around and looking cute on game day. Participating in cheerleading requires a lot of sacrifice, especially if someone is involved in competitive cheerleading on the school or national level. Thus, cheerleading is a sport, just as any other.
Cheerleading requires participants to give up much more than other sports. According to a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics discovered that cheerleading is the most dangerous sport due to all of the injuries including concussions, fractures and broken bones. Cheerleaders often get injured during practice and sometimes while performing. Becoming a cheerleader also means sacrificing a plethora of your time and money. Practices can run from 3-5 times a week and then having to cheer at the games, while also balancing school and any other extra-curricular activities. Being as I am a former cheerleader our practices usually ran from 4-7 and sometimes it was even longer than that. Cheerleading is not cheap and can cost around $1,000-$3,000 especially if you are on a competition team. Included in these fees are the uniforms, transportation to other schools, poms and bows.
In addition to providing money and time, cheerleaders also have to keep their body in shape to do all of the tumbling, stunts and movement they must do. To be eligible to have the opportunity to join a high school and competitive cheer team, most teams require the participants to have tumbling experience. This is why gymnasts often join cheerleading teams because they already possess the ability to do a plethora of the flips and tricks used in competitive cheer. Practices do not only consist of going over cheers and chants but getting the body physically in shape to carry out the high energy level action taking place during games. Exercises include running miles, push ups, sit ups and more. They have to be able to have enough strength to lift and hold another human being in the air while that person is also moving around doing dangerous stunts.
According to there is no way to define what causes a sport to be official. The Women’s Sports Foundation goes as far as listing some of the qualities a sport needs to be labeled or considered as official. The sport must contain physical activity that involves throwing a mass through space which can be seen in cheerleading as stunting. The next qualification is that the sport must contest and compete against an opponent which is the entire point of competitive cheer. Thirdly, there has to be rules towards the time, space and purpose of the contest and rules in which the winner is decided which coordinates with the time limit, cheer music and scoring sheets. Cheerleading fits the same criteria as football, basketball and every other sport deemed an “official” sport.
Thus, cheerleading is an official sport and should not be questioned or insulted. The participants are at a higher risk for injury than any other sport and requires so much more from the individuals. They also require a plethora of time and money like every other sport. They possess all of the qualities of an “official” sport and should be treated as such.