There are many people who claim cheerleading is not a sport. There are many reasons for this, but essentially cheerleaders have not traditionally competed (this is of course changing rapidly), and many people do not consider routines a sport the same way football or basketball are. Is cheerleading a sport? Is it merely a pastime?
Arguments that Cheerleading is Not a Sport
Cheerleading is often compared to sports, but there are many arguments against it. There is also a distinction made between a “yell” leader, a stunt cheerleader, and a competitive All Star cheerleader. Is it possible to say that some cheerleading is a sport while others aren’t? Sports are defined differently by different people.
Sports Require Physical Ability or Skill
Sports require some kind of physical ability or skill that must be learned and practiced in order to be successful. Although cheerleaders practice, it can be argued that cheerleading, when it’s simply yelling into crowds, does not require a great deal of skill. It is not hard to learn routines and yell into the crowd as long as you smile a lot.
Sports Require Competition
It can be argued that cheerleading requires competition as a result of the advent of competitive cheerleading as an independent activity. What if the cheerleaders just clap and yell during games? It is possible that the school does not compete. There are many schools with cheerleading squads that do not compete.
Can cheerleading be considered a sport in this case? According to the National Federation of State High School Associations and the Women’s Sports Foundation, no. As a result of the competitions required to be considered a school sport, cheerleaders would be unable to support their teams during games.
Sports Require Strategy
The lack of defined strategy makes cheerleading appear to be an unsporting activity. You want the judges to think that you perform your stunts and routine better than the other squads, regardless of whether you are on a competing squad. As a result, competitive diving, gymnastics, and other aesthetic activities are also not sports.
Sports Require Contact with an Opponent
Even at competitions, cheerleaders don’t come into contact with their opponents. This is one of the criteria that makes the “not a sport” argument. Other sports, such as golf or swimming, do not involve physical contact.
Sports Have Consistent Divisions
Schools and teams may compete in cheer competitions, but school-based cheerleading does not have specific divisions like basketball or football. According to Deborah Slaner Larkin, Chief of Special Projects at the Women’s Sports Foundation, cheerleading shouldn’t be recognized as a sport for this reason.
Problems with Recognizing Cheerleading as a Sport
Drill teams, cheerleading, and similar activities are harder to recognize as sports than whether cheerleaders are athletes or not. As a matter of fact, there is a deeper discussion of Title IX politics and other issues in the debate.
Because cheerleading is not recognized as a bona fide sport, there is no national governing body, though the International Cheer Union (ICU) has been given provisional recognition. Additionally, cheerleaders at the college level do not have on-site athletic trainers. According to orthopedic experts, proper safety precautions could prevent many cheerleading injuries. Therefore, cheerleading deserves sport status for the sake of the cheerleaders themselves.
The Politics of Title IX
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education actually discouraged schools from including cheerleading as a sport for almost three decades. What’s the reason? To ensure that schools are not gender biased in their offerings, the OCR is responsible. To avoid being categorized as gender biased, schools should offer sports equally to boys and girls. Cheerleading was not recognized as a sport in schools to even out the books. Schools have gotten around this by offering both a spirit club and a cheerleading squad. There is a spirit club that cheers primarily at games and a squad that attends competitions.
The status of an after-school club is quite acceptable to some schools. What’s the reason? They are ineligible to participate in some national cheerleading competitions once they become an official school sport. The squad would lose the opportunity to show off their skills if it were considered an official sport, despite improving safety.
Deciding Whether Cheerleading Is a Sport
There may never be a definitive answer to the question of whether cheerleading is a real sport. Many people will never consider it more than an after-school club, even though there are reasons to consider it a sport and it meets some accepted criteria. It is certain that cheerleading is gaining popularity so quickly that it may become a sport without having to work very hard.