Will the debate ever end about the sport of cheerleading?
The short answer of “is cheerleading a sport” is not a very satisfying one; it depends. It depends on personal opinion and it even depends on laws in certain U.S. states.
It’s funny how cheerleading of all things can cause such silly controversy. However, it can and it has. Not by its own doing, but because everyone seems to have a differing opinion on the subject. No one argues that American Football, Soccer, Baseball, Softball, etc. are sports. However, when something like cheerleading comes up into discussion, suddenly everything heats up. The weird thing is cheerleading is physically taxing just like any other sport. It’s also very competitive like most sports are. So why is there such controversy around the idea that maybe cheerleading could be considered a sport?
As of 2015, California became the ninth state in America to recognize cheerleading as a sport. For any cheer team in California that was huge. The recognition of cheerleading as a sport means you are able to develop “guidelines for competitive cheer programs that our member schools can implement,” said Roger Blake, Executive Director of the California Interscholastic Federation. Even the American Medical Association believes that cheerleading should be considered a sport. Why? Because of the physical exertion involved and the risks taken. Dr. Samantha Rosman, a pediatrician in Boston, mentioned that girls who do cheerleading are doing flips in the air — up to twenty feet high. Of course, it would be risky and it would be easy to get injured performing stunts such as those.
A lot of times however, when people think of cheer, they may not be thinking about girls who are performing feats that could be compared to Olympic gymnasts in some ways. A lot of people may think of the girls as mascots that are on the sides of professional sports, namely American Football. I don’t think I have ever seen a cheer team do much more than hop around and shake their pompoms at a professional American Football game and I watch a lot of Football.
However, when you are talking about the girls who do flips, who have practiced routines over and over again, who have worked hard for hours and who compete — it sounds no different from anything else our society deems as a sport.
That being said the NCAA doesn’t recognize cheerleading as a sport itself. The NCAA regulations state that there has to be at least 20 varsity teams across college campuses. The sport also has to gain 10 years of championship status or at least be working towards that in order to be considered a sport by them. As of right now, the NCAA doesn’t seem to count it at all.
What do you think? Is cheerleading a sport? Why or why not?