No football or basketball fan would argue that cheerleaders are not an integral part of the sport experience. However, some might argue that cheerleaders are more decorative than anything . . . and that being a cheerleader does not necessarily equate to being a sports athlete. (Of course, any cheerleader would disagree with that statement!) So, why the debate over whether or not cheerleading is a sport? And if cheerleading is not a sport, what is it? Here are the highlights of both sides of this long-standing argument:
The definition of “sport.” One of the leading points people make when arguing against cheerleadings authenticity as a sport lies in the very definition of the word “sport.” A sport may be defined as a competitive athletic activity that must be conducted according to a specified set of rules and regulations. Therefore, a sport is like an athletic game or competition. While it is true that cheerleaders are athletic, and that they do compete against other squads of cheerleaders in local and national conventions, it cannot exactly be said that there are rules to the cheerleading “game.”
The purpose of cheerleading. It is also valid to point out that cheerleaders do not exist to compete against one another in a predefined competitive setting. Rather, cheerleaders exist primarily for the purpose of entertaining sports fans, hyping up morale during sports games, and cheering on sports teams. They are absolutely an integral part of sports, but don’t necessarily participate in a sport, in the traditional sense. However, this is slowly changing with time. These days, some cheerleading squads are being formed with the specific intent of competing against other cheerleading squads. As the number of this type of group grows, it is likely that cheerleading will become more widely accepted as a sport.
Cheerleading injuries. We always here about injuries when they happen to leading football or basketball stars, right? It seems cheerleaders never get injured . . . or at least we never hear about it. The truth is, the latter is the case. Cheerleader injuries actually outnumber football player injuries. News of those injuries generally stays on the sidelines, which fosters the belief that cheerleaders might not exhibit the type of athleticism that causes injuries.
Whichever side of the debate you fall on, you can’t deny the fact that cheerleaders are an important part of sports, and that they are athletes in their own right. Is cheerleading a sport? It depends on who you ask. But one thing is for certain: cheerleading is only becoming more popular and broadening its reach . . . and is arguably on its way to resembling a “real” sport.
About the Author: Rosendo Guetierrez is the father of two teen daughters, both of whom are competitive cheerleaders. When he’s not getting them from place to place, he can be found online reading about healthcare issues. One of his favorite sites is yeastinfection.org by Eric Bakker because it sheds light on the fact that the candida organism can impact men, women, and children of all ages.