Flipping Over Cheerleading

by Lauren

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They are always there. You see them, you watch them, and even cheer them on at football and basketball games. I am talking about the athletes, and not the athletes playing on the field. I am talking about the cheerleaders. As they dance and yell out the words of crowd-pleasing chants, you may not think much about how hard they work to be out on that field.

For years, it has been a debate between athletes if cheerleading is a sport.  Some say that it is not because there is nothing to compete for and nothing to win. Well, to truly be able to make a decision you must know what it takes to be qualified as a sport.  Oxford dictionary states that for an activity to be a sport, there must be physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

RFH Cheer wm-8453When looking at that definition, I can state that only half of cheerleading is a sport. Now, I know what you must be thinking, and yes, a sport can be divided in half.  You see, cheerleading is split into two parts. First there is cheering for a game, or for a team. The part that is not a sport is not because there is nothing to win.

The other half of cheerleading is called competition cheerleading. This is where males and females join competition cheerleading squads and compete against each other. Each year, the competitions and teams grow in size. Over the years this sport has become more competitive than ever. It is a mix between dance, gymnastics, and also traditional cheerleading. Competition cheerleading has now found itself in many foreign countries and in the homes of many Americans.

Today there is a worldwide cheerleading competition, which ESPN covers on television every year. This competition is known as Cheerleading Worlds and is hosted by Disney World. Each year after all the teams have competed and been named the best of the best, they will compete against each other. Teams are split by divisions such as team sizes. School cheerleading squads are now able to compete in their own division. Each team will be evaluated, and one will be declared the winner of their division.

Evaluations are different for each division, and there are multiple divisions. These divisions are divided by age and difficulty.  If a division is for teams with an age range of 10 year old, the expectations would not be the same as a division with the age range of 15 year old. The older, or level of difficulty higher, must have more tumbling passes (gymnastics in the routine) and harder stunts. When looking at all star teams, or outside of school cheerleading gyms, they are expected to have much bigger and better dancing, tumbling, and stunting parts. All stars are gyms especially training their athletes to compete in cheerleading competitions.

Most do not know about this other half of cheerleading.  It’s understandable how confusion in labeling this sport or club can arise.  I also would have some confusion normally, but after completing my first year of high school football cheer, I now realize that both competition and non-competition cheerleading is a sport.  Most do not see the difficulty it takes and the time spent to learn 30-second dances.   Cheerleaders spend their time perfecting what they can in their dances or cheers. It also takes being physically in shape to keep up with the fast pace practices.

Many components go into being a cheerleader, and it’s not for the weak-spirited. Just because it isn’t a rough physical sport doesn’t mean it’s not difficult.  When looking at some of the parts that go into cheerleading, it’s hard not to agree it’s a sport. Both dance and gymnastics, two crucial parts in cheerleading, are both sports. Why should cheerleading be robbed of that title?

At RFH, cheerleading is a club and not a sport, but the cheerleaders do get varsity letters.  Some blame the media for displaying cheerleading as a stereotypical sport. Now people don’t take cheerleading seriously thinking it’s for unathletic girls who only flail their arms in the air and sport a pony tail. Two words. Not cool.

Next time you hear someone mention cheerleading don’t be so quick to judge. There is more behind those pom-poms and ponytails than you think. I will never be able to change all those haters’ minds, but I can make more people aware of what cheerleading is: a sport.  Maybe being more open- minded to different things can change your perspective on life; soon it may be you flipping over cheerleading.

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