The Debate Over Whether or Not Cheerleading is a Sport
According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, cheerleading meets all elements to be considered a sport including things such as stunting, physical activity, and rules. However, cheerleading is still not officially considered as a sport. When evaluating all elements involved in cheerleading, including stunting and requiring medical trainers and assistance, many question why cheerleading is not already officially a sport. Others believe that it is a no-brainer as to why cheerleading isn’t considered a sport, for some are convinced cheerleading does not involve as much time, physical activity, or danger as other sports.
Daniel Stokes, a King’s College sophomore, said cheerleading contains elements that make it art, not a sport.
“Cheerleading shouldn’t be a sport because it involves dancing,” Stokes said. “It’s expression. It’s more of an art form, despite the physical activity involved.”
According to the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators, also known as AACCA, cheerleading requires skills that mean cheerleaders need the strength of football players, the grace of dancers, and the agility of gymnasts. However, many will argue that although cheerleading requires the strength of football, it is not a contact sport or contact activity, therefore it should not be considered a sport.
Under the nation’s title XI regulations, which require universities receiving federal funds to offer equal athletic opportunities to both boys and girls, a sport must have coaches, practices and competitions during a defined season. It must also have a governing organization, and its primary goal must be to compete, not just support other teams. Cheerleaders say that their activity goes above and beyond meeting those requirements.
Alyssa Watkins, a King’s College sophomore and cheerleader, said cheerleading is as much of a sport as any of the recognized contact sports.
“Sure, cheerleading isn’t considered a contact sport, but we are constantly catching and throwing girls into the air,” Watkins said. “And we get hurt, a lot. Not to mention we don’t have trainers at our practices or games. I sprained my ankle a week ago from falling out of a stunt, and waited 10 minutes before I had help. We are just as much a sport as any other and should be considered one here at King’s College.”
The issue of whether or not cheerleading is a sport remains controversial because some believe it does not live up to other sports, does not involve two teams and does not involve any type of winner.
King’s College sophomore Francesco Barongi said cheerleading is not a sport because it does it does not involve the same amount of physical activity as other sports do.
“Cheerleading shouldn’t be considered a sport because it involves too much dancing and down time,” Barongi said. “In sports, you’re constantly moving, clashing, doing something. Cheerleaders just wave their pom poms and look pretty.”
In spite of those opinions, cheerleading does involve qualifications, judging and competitions. According to the AACCA’s Emergency Action Plan for Cheerleading Safety, cheerleaders have to take certain precautions, just like other sports, in order to remain safe, such as staying hydrated, having a telephone nearby in case of emergency injuries, and also have a certified athletic trainer present during all games and practices.
Holliann Brooks, coach of the King’s College cheerleading team, said cheerleading is a sport because it is a physically demanding activity that contains elements of recognized spots.
“I think it should be considered a sport because it is absolutely physically demanding,” Brooks said. “It combines gymnastics and dance, which are sports, and stunting. Not to mention the need to be covered by trainers and doctors for safety.”
Brooks said that the fact that cheerleading is not recognized as a sport brings potential danger with it in terms of who coaches cheerleaders.
“Because cheerleading is not currently a sport, anyone can be a coach,” Brooks said. “Therefore, someone with no experience can coach, which is unsafe. If it were a sport, extra qualifications and training would be needed.”
Cheerleading may still be classified as an activity rather than a sport, but the conversation isn’t over; it will continue to be the source of debate with clashing opinions.