By Sierra Trujillo
Cheerleaders. They jump, they tumble and they throw each other in the air, all with smiles on their faces. Is there any question that these women and men are athletes?
No. Or at least, there shouldn’t be. Cheerleading has become quite athletic over the years with more complicated tumbling passes, stunts and dances.
But the question that has much of the attention now is whether or not cheerleading should be considered a sport.
Currently, the National Collegiate Athletic Association does not recognize cheerleading as a sport. A sport is defined as physical activity that is governed by a set of rules and is often engaged in competitively.
Cheerleading has the physical activity. The women and men who participate must maintain their upbeat attitudes for the entire sporting event that they are cheering at. Then, on top of that, they must also perform their own routine during the event.
Many believe that there is no physical activity involved in cheerleading because all they do is shake their butts and show off their bodies. Although this may have been true of cheerleaders in the past, it couldn’t be further from the truth today. Cheerleading today takes strength, agility, flexibility and stamina, just like any other sport.
Also unknown, although college cheerleading is not considered a sport by the NCAA, the teams still have a set of rules that they have to follow regarding safety.
These regulations include limitations on stunts and tumbling. Stunts cannot be built over a certain level, depending on if the team is on grass or hardwood floor, and some tumbling passes cannot be performed because of safety concerns.
The only requirement that cheerleading teams do not meet while performing at other sporting events is engaging in competition. But, many teams participate in competitions along with cheering at games.
These competitions include cheer teams from across the country. These competitions have stricter regulations and teams that come to win.
Although the teams do not compete on the floor at the same time, they are scored on their skills and performance and how well they execute a routine. Then, the team with the most points wins, just as in basketball, football or soccer.
So if cheerleading includes physical activity, rules and competition, why shouldn’t it be considered a sport?
One reason some people do not believe cheerleading is a sport, although not in the specific definition, is that there is no risk of injury as in another sport.
However, cheerleading accounts for about 66 percent of injuries among female college athletes. Whether a girl tears her ACL in basketball or cheerleading, it is going to take the same amount of time to recover; a cheerleader’s injury is not any less serious.
Because cheerleading is not currently recognized as a sport in the NCAA, the cheer teams do not have access to the benefits that other sports teams do. These benefits include use of facilities, access to trainers and physicians, weight training, certified coaches, and well-maintained practice facilities.
Although cheerleaders are already considered athletes, college cheerleading should be accepted as a sport by the NCAA. It contains physical activity, it has rules and regulations and it engages in competition.
Cheerleaders also have more injuries than any other female sport. If cheerleading were considered a sport, cheerleaders would have the same access to benefits that all other sports have.
Jenilee Umali/The Poly Post
Cheerleading: It should be a sport
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