Is Cheerleading a Sport?


Anja Francis

Seniors Anne White, Leah Lindsey, and Caylee Wright cheering on the Blackcats at Homecoming 2018

Malayna Elrod, Writer

Every cheerleader gets fired up when someone sparks the “Is cheer leading a sport?” debate. Whether it’s a football player in one of your classes, a teacher who talks down to cheer, or a friend who doesn’t understand why you’re not involved in something else that is “more athletic.” You want people to know that cheerleaders are athletes. Usually people make negative comments about cheer leading because they know it gets under your skin, but some people truly believe cheer leading lacks athleticism. When necessary, the Office for Civil Rights makes this determination on a case by case basis. The Women’s Sports Foundation has narrowed the field to these elements:

It must be a physical activity which involves propelling a mass through space or overcoming the resistance of mass. Stunting… check!
“Contesting” or competing against/with an opponent is required. Competition… check!
It must be governed by rules that explicitly define the time, space, and purpose of the contest and the conditions under which a winner is declared. Time limit, mat size, score sheets all count.
Acknowledgement that the primary purpose of the competition is a comparison of the relative skills of the participants. You know those competitions on ESPN? Those are national championships… check!

The Women’s Sports Foundation makes it clear that “any physical activity in which relative performance can be judged or qualified can be developed into a competitive sport as long as:

The physical activity includes the above defined elements and the primary purpose is competition verses other teams or individuals within a competition structure comparable to other ‘athletic’ activities.”
This is where your argument ends. Not because of any physical definition – as you can see cheerleading meets ALL of the athletic specifications. But, because cheerleading’s primary purpose is to support high school and college athletic teams. Competition comes second!

So, in my opinion, Cheerleading is just as competitive and takes just as much work and practice as any other sport. Just because there isn’t a ball involved does not mean it’s not a sport. Think of Frisbee golf or hockey, for example. They may not be as popular as basketball but they are still played competitively. Cheerleading is indeed a sport.