What comes to mind when you hear “sports”, football, wrestling, baseball, and basketball? Like many our minds go straight to these well-known sports; but what about cheerleading? Cheerleading is dated back to 1898 and it over 100 years old. About 80% of schools in the United States have cheerleading squads these days. Cheerleaders are well known for performing many acrobatic stunts.
What constitutes a sport? According to dictionary.com sports “is an athletic activity requiring skills or physical prowess and often competitive nature”. So, why the debate whether cheerleading is a sport? Cheerleading is often only seen as “cheer” since they are known chanting during football games.
The National Federation of State High School Associations and the Women’s Sports Foundation define a sport as “competition”. Besides being known for their chanting cheerleader are also known for their competition. Cheerleading is its own unique sport and deserves the same attention as our “traditional” sports. The International Cheer Union states that cheerleading is not only a sport but is also done for recreational
Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer founded the National Cheerleader Association (NCA) in 1948. Texas is considered to be the cheerleading capital. Four of our former presidents were cheerleaders; George W. Bush was head cheerleader when he was a senior at Phillips Academy in the 1960s and was also a cheerleader at Yale University. President Ronald Reagan went to Eureka College where he participated in the sport of cheerleading.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower attended West Point Academy where he played many sports, including cheerleading. According to a CNN article written by Almasy, Steve “there are over 200,000 athletes who take part in competitive cheerleading where high-flying stunts, powerful tumbling and tight synchronization yield winning scores in a growing network of competitions” (Almasy).
Cheerleading like any other traditional sport it requires dedication, endurance, athleticisms, specific skill training. Comparing cheerleading to the definition provided by dictionary.com, looking at the flips, formations, and difficult task they perform using their bodies it meets the standard of athletic activity requiring skills or physical prowess. The next definition is competitive nature, many cheerleading competitions are held nationwide and internationally. These competitions are regulated under all levels throughout high school and college. Although, competitive nature could be a flawed definition of a sport due to the fact that many people can get into anything and be competitive about it.
In an article published on the website www.varsity.com the Women’s Sports Foundation states “any physical activity in which relative performance can be judge or qualified can be developed into a competitive sport as the primary purpose is competitive versus other teams or individuals within a competition structure to other “athletic” activities”(WSF). Cheerleading meets all the athletic specifications. Cheerleading is a sport.
When considering what the Women’s Sports Foundation considers a sport, cheerleading passes with excellence. In 2011 USA Cheer, introduced a new Cheerleading team called STUNT. Per the International Cheer Union (ICU) STUNT is a “format allowing Cheerleading teams to compete in 4 rounds (quarters) of competition against one other opposing Cheerleading team” (ICU). The International Cheer Union was accepted as a member of SportAccord/GAISF in 2013.
When comparing cheerleading to other sports there are few differences. Cheerleading has all the traits of a sport and requires as much physical preparation as other sports. Although cheerleading purpose is to support high school and college teams, it is contested and viewed individually making it sport.