When someone mentions cheerleading, there are probably two images that first come to mind. The first image might include sideline cheerleaders with pompoms chanting encouragements to a football team. The other image, however, may look like a high-speed routine filled with back handsprings, helicopters, basket tosses and other advanced cheering stunts. What I am talking about here is the high-level competition cheerleading that we see all over the world.     Allow me to start off by mentioning that I am not and never was a cheerleader. However, as someone who has gotten the opportunity to spectate at events where cheerleaders perform, to say I was in awe would be an understatement. With that said, I would like to challenge all those out there who argue that cheerleading is not a sport. 

Kyle Bailey / Photo Editor

Kyle Bailey / Photo Editor

According to a livestrong.com article, some reasons people argue that cheerleading isn’t a sport include comments such as, “The activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.” The claim this makes is that the sport itself lacks organization and structural rules.

This does not say anything about the level of athleticism it requires to be a competition cheerleader. In terms of physical abilities, I would argue cheerleaders are some of the toughest athletes there are. Engaging in the sport means risking a high chance of injuries, some that could potentially be career ending or, at the very worst, lethal. Like many other sports, cheerleading is made up of a team that is expected to communicate and work together in order to achieve a common goal. According to livestrong.com cheerleaders work to incorporate elements of dance, tumbling and gymnastics to create performance routines. In doing so, this requires a coach or a person of proper knowledge and skill related to cheering. It is the coach’s responsibility to supervise the routines and make sure everything goes smoothly, along with teaching the fundamentals, up to the more skillful components of the sport.

Similar to any other sport, there is a competitive aspect. Cheerleading teams train and prepare to compete against others. Their competitions are organized and scheduled. They are also assessed on their performance, which then determines a winner. For someone to argue that what these men and women pour their lives into isn’t a sport is a true slap in the face to the athletes themselves. This is not to discredit the work of athletes in other sport settings, however, I would argue that cheerleaders work just as hard if not harder than other mainstream sports we see today. I believe a particular person and his or her perception of what sport is, is very dependent on his or her own personal experiences. If a person grew up playing contact sports only, such as football or ice hockey, it would not be uncommon for that person to assume that all sports must be of high contact in order to be justified as a ‘real’ sport.

What these people need to do is become more open minded and realize that there is a plethora of different variety of sports and just because they may not be as physical as their own, does not make them any less of a sport. I would also argue that many people decide not to validate cheerleading as a sport because it is typically a sport performed by females.

I would like to acknowledge the many men out there who do identify as cheerleaders, however, it is no surprise that they are not in the majority. It has taken decades upon decades for women in sports to receive any kind of recognition.

Now women have certainly reached a certain level of recognition, but they are still far from where men stand today in terms of sport. Maybe if cheerleading was a male-dominated sport it would be taken more seriously and that is something I find to be completely unfair.

When watching a sport, whatever it may be, it is important to give credit to the athletes that sacrifice so much of themselves for something they hold so close to their hearts. When we try to take that away from them and say that their sport isn’t legitimate, we are not being fair to their hard work, talent and skill.


Sabrina Lapointe can be contacted at slapointe@keene-equinox.com

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