Cheerleading is a Sport
The debate of if cheerleading is really a sport gets into the skin of many who believe so. Some debates just spark out of nowhere in order to annoy the party in question or because these people just believe that there is no athleticism in cheerleading. To prove these people wrong, this article will relate it to the fundamentals or essentials that make an activity a sport.
Cheerleading is a sport. To begin with, there is no definite definition of the word sport. This is a fact! But what really makes an activity a sport is what raises all these questions. The Women’s Sports Foundation tried to narrow some elements into being a sport into this field. According to the foundation, for an activity to be termed a sport, it must fulfill the following credentials. For an activity to be termed as a sport, it must involve physical exercise that either resists mass or propels mass into space. The second condition it must fulfill is that there must be an opponent such that it is a competition or a contest. For an activity to be termed as a sport, it must be governed by rules. These rules must define explicitly space, time, and the reason for the competition or contest. It should also provide the conditions under which a winner is declared. Then lastly, the activity must have an acknowledgment that its primary purpose is to foster comparison of the participants’ relative skills.
Looking at the above conditions put down by the Women’s Sports Foundation, cheerleading passes the test! There are still two more qualification needs that determine if cheerleading is really a sport, however. The Women’s Sports Foundation lucidly explains 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.”
Cheerleading is definitely a sport. It meets all the qualifications named above of athletics. The fact that cheerleading’s primary purpose is to give support to the college or high school athletes it gives competition the second position. This means that cheerleading is more than just a sport.
To gain more support that cheerleading is a sport, the USA cheer, in 2011, launched a sport called STUNT. The sport was to create opportunities for young lady athletes at both high school and college level. In doing this, it aimed at letting cheerleading to remain to be imperative and crucial part of the programs of the school’s spirit. The sports STUNT integrates all sorts of sports including cheerleading and then putting them into head-to-head four quarter competition. This is usually done in such a way that all the requirements of the sports under Title IX are met. STUNT has been the nation’s one of the most and fastest growing sports.
Cheerleading is a sport because it involves physical exercise, it is a competition, rules govern it, and it acknowledges the primary purpose of comparing skills of the participants. The above-explained facts can silence all the debates that arise to prove that cheerleading is not a sport.
No one can deny that cheerleading involves a huge amount of athleticism, skill, flexibility and endurance but can it rightfully be described as a sport? In this essay, my objective is to prove that cheerleading is a modern day sport. Consequently, I will be considering the aspects of this physical activity that meet the requirements of the officials determining what is considered a certified sport.
Of the Office of Civil Rights’ extensive definition for valid sports, the Women’s Sports Foundation dwindles this down to a number of key elements. Firstly, a sport must be ‘a physical activity which involves propelling a mass through space or overcoming the resistance of mass’. It must incorporate a sense of ‘contest’ with or against an opponent. It must be led by explicit rules to ‘define the time, space, and purpose of the contest and the conditions under which a winner is declared’. Finally, the list dictates that a sport acknowledges that its objective is ‘a comparison of the relative skills of the participants’.
Of the above, there isn’t one criterion that cheerleading doesn’t meet. So why is it that there is so much deliberation on this matter? After all, cheerleading is a physical activity that predominantly involves athletes thrusting their peers into the air (propelling mass), supporting them on different areas of their bodies (resisting mass), competing with other cheerleading teams (thus a ‘contest’) and doing all of this whilst abiding by strict rules relating to time limits and mat sizes. It is also important to note that the dictionary definition of a team, which is a term broadly attached to cheerleading, is ‘a group of players forming one side in a competitive game or sport’.
Though it is not necessarily like mainstream sports such as soccer, rugby and tennis (which all have a ‘playing’ element to them), cheerleaders execute their activity with as much energy, skill and passion as any player in the aforementioned sports. If anything, cheerleading is more than a sport as it an artistic performance which combines a range of additional elements – athleticism, dance, music and, dare I say, fashion. Some may say that fashion has no place in sport but I would argue that many famous soccer stars’ successes derive partially from their appearance on the field (ie how their hair is styled, the brand of footwear they are wearing, the tattoos they are displaying, and so on).
I cannot help but wonder if the age old issue of feminism has something to count for in this debate. Do people feel that, because cheerleading teams are predominantly female, they deserve no place in the world of sports? I can appreciate that women in sport are acknowledged in this modern era yet I do not feel that female sporting role models are given as much credit and limelight as some men who are equally successful in their field. My fear is that cheerleading has been sexualised over the years, a theme that appears to begin in high school, and is thus not given the respect it deserves in today’s sporting community.
The sexual objectification of cheerleaders means that these hard-working athletes are often seen as objects to be looked at prior to ‘the big game’. However, the fact is that cheerleaders train hard, are in great physical shape and share a passion for being the best. Though their outfits may reveal their legs and, at times, their backsides, the clothing they wear is a uniform as those worn in any other team sport and are designed to allow the flexibility with their limbs and to stop them from overheating during energetic performances. It isn’t easy to do the splits with long flowing material restricting your legs!
On a similar note, why should cheerleaders shy away from making themselves appeal to others (not necessarily in a sexual way) and to take pride in their physical appearance? Is it very common to see sportsmen exploiting their sexual appeal and featuring topless (or sometimes naked) in calendars and photo shoots. Yet, if a cheerleader was to do the same she may lose any respect earned from being a talented sportsperson. When it comes down to it, strength and motivation are attractive features in both men and women and are qualities that should be embraced by any member of a sports team.