Is Cheerleading a Sport?

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Sports play an integral role in all of our lives. Actively taking part in sports can greatly improve our physical fitness and also improves our flexibility, allowing our joints and our muscles to easily mold in any pose. Sports is all about training hard for months just to perform well for a few minutes on the big stage.

Just like a football team that competes against another to score goals and win the game, and just like basketball where the objective is to score more points than the other team, cheerleaders are also responsible for supporting their teams.

But, is cheerleading a sport? In the following article, we will look at the main reasons that determine whether cheerleading is a sport and which bodies classify it.

The Sports Status

Many supporters are of the opinion that cheerleading is a sport because it heavily relies on athletic talent. People who partake in cheerleading need to be physically and mentally fit. However, some critics are of the opinion that it’s not a sport, since there’s no competition among all the squads.

The scores are assessed by judges instead of measured over a period of time. In 2009, the Wisconsin Supreme Court gave a ruling that stated cheerleading is a sport, thus participants could not be sued for causing accidental injuries. However, in 2010, because of Title IX, a federal court came to the conclusion that cheerleading is not actually a sport.

On the other hand, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, also known as the NCAA, explicitly states that cheerleading is not a sport. The American Medical Association, on the other hand, claims that because of the number of injuries suffered by participants, it should be considered a sport.

Lack of Governing Bodies

Another reason why cheerleading is not designated as a sport is because of the lack of governing bodies. For instance, in Canada, cheerleading has grown to become a major activity instead of just being confined to the sidelines.

Cheerleading is available at middle school, high school, college, and even all-star levels. There are plenty of championship opportunities available for people who are actively taking part as cheerleaders. However, there is no official governing body for cheerleaders in Canada.

Instead, the rules and guidelines used throughout the country are the same ones that were set by USASF. Yet, there are several organizations throughout the country that have separate rules and scoresheets, and also hold competitive events. Despite this fact, cheerleading is still not a major sport.

Lack of Funding

One of the major reasons why cheerleading is not considered a popular sport is due to the lack of funding. To even campaign for it to become a sport, a considerable amount of funding is required. Unfortunately, cheerleading simply does not receive as much funding or attract as big of crowds.

There are hardly any college programs that offer scholarships to students who are cheerleaders. Many of them claim that they cannot offer scholarships to “spirit” team players. The funding is limited because there are not many viewers.

Sponsors generally avoid offering funding for programs that do not attract big crowds. Title IX, which requires women and men to be treated on an equal level in academics, effectively bans gender-based discrimination in sports. Even then, the limited funding poses a serious problem.

Underdeveloped and Disorganized

A major problem with many cheerleading programs is that they are still relatively underdeveloped or disorganized. There is no unifying body or a regulatory authority that effectively plays their role in managing the effort to turn cheerleading into a sport. Unless there is a major effort to turn cheerleading into an active sport, it’s unlikely that the effort is going to succeed.

The Original Purpose

A major reason why cheerleading is still not considered to be a sport is simply because of its original purpose: cheerleading was primarily created as a way of supporting other teams. The activity was realized in the latter half of the 19th century and focused mainly on men.

However, over time, it turned into a sport that was heavily dominated by females. Pom poms and short skirts became the norm, and competitive cheerleading became something that requires exceptional athleticism, beginning by the 1990s.

Competitive cheerleaders are of the opinion that this image actually undermines their efforts. These people are professional athletes with lots of experience and have worked their way to the top.

The False Perception

There’s also the perception that cheerleaders primarily do this to look pretty. Obviously, that’s not true. Most people also falsely associate cheerleaders with ladies who have grown up in a privileged household and have lived an easy life. It’s obviously annoying, especially for experienced cheerleaders who have poured their heart and soul into the activity.

It can also be a bit demeaning because most people simply fail to credit the amount of effort required to perform as a cheerleader. These are meticulously practiced routines, and the Women’s Sports Foundation overlooks the whole thing. They are trying to come up with different athletic programs that can improve the quality of the activity.

The Case for Cheerleading Being a Sport

Sport, in general, is defined as any activity that requires physical exertion and also involves some sort of competition. Cheerleading, as you can imagine, requires a considerable amount of athleticism and physical exertion. Needless to say, it is a sport, in all senses of the word. It just hasn’t been classified as such yet.

Physical exertion in cheerleading is primarily caused due to stunting. Stunting is all about lifting legs in the air, throwing one person around and then catching them, without resulting in bodily harm. Needless to say, cheerleaders require considerable upper body strength and lots of practice before they even get on stage.

That is one of the main reasons why cheerleaders also sustain so many injuries. Cheerleading is a serious sport with a higher potential for injury, but because it takes so much practice before cheerleaders get on stage, it’s easy to understand why these participants are able to pull off such amazing moves with such precision.

These are just some of the main reasons why cheerleading should be classified as a sport but isn’t actually called one as yet. With a joint effort by the bodies, it just might one day be called a sport!


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