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Why Cheerleading is a Sport, Not An “Activity”

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Why Cheerleading is a Sport, Not An “Activity”

By Marija Kraljevic, Staff Writer

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Cheerleading โ€” what is it exactly? Much controversy and debate has gone on for years on whether or not cheerleading is a sport or just an activity. Every time I walk into school with my uniform and bow on, there’s at least three people telling me how cheerleading isn’t a sport, and it’s honestly very irritating. Sometimes it’s even the football players or basketball players who we’re supporting on the sidelines at their games that begin the debate during class about cheerleading not being a sport. Many people don’t understand the amount of work and exertion cheerleading requires, and how it takes as much effort, if not more, than other sports.

Cheerleading is defined as a sport where people cheer for their team and go through intense physical activity. They typically cheer for boys basketball and football teams. Some cheerleading teams cheer for volleyball, soccer, and baseball. Other than shouting uplifting phrases from the sidelines, cheerleaders motivate other sports teams as well as competing in competitions, and entertaining the audience. Competitive cheerleading routines last from anywhere around one to three minutes. Each routine contains the elements of stunting, tumbling, dancing, and jumping. Pieces of gymnastics and dance are also featured in cheerleading.

Through stunting, cheerleaders lift and toss other athletes into the air as they watch them spin or put their body into extravagant positions that look impossible. Most cheerleaders get their injuries from this part of cheerleading, as it is also deemed to be the most dangerous contact sport. Through tumbling, athletes throw their own body through the air as they perform flips such as back hand springs, tucks, and fulls. The tumbling aspect of cheerleading is related closely to the tumbling in gymnastics, which is also a sport.

Cheerleaders practice as much as any regular athlete would, as it also comes with physical, mental, and emotional challenges. They push themselves so that they can achieve specific skills and move on further with different levels of stunts, tumbling, and jumps.

“Cheerleading is a sport that takes up all of your mental strength and tests it through each routine you perform in,” sophomore on the Niles West Varsity Cheer team Angelina Boudouvas said. “Cheerleading deserves to be recognized as a sport because we’re athletes and put in just as much, if not more, work than others.”

In order to have a successful routine at competitions, cheerleaders give it their all every practice and go through intense physical activity and conditioning to prepare their bodies for the upcoming cheerleaders they will face at each competition they attend.

“We are pushed to our limits at every practice,” senior and Niles West Varsity Cheer captain Leanza Diaz said. “We work very hard to construct our routine and make sure it’s perfect.”

It doesn’t matter what you might think, but just know that cheerleading isn’t all about waving around some pom poms and yelling out loud cheering for another team as they play. It’s about hard work, dedication, and bonding with other people as a team as you entertain and perform in front of a crowd to prove your worth, and execute your skills.

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