Maybe it’s because I spent eight years of my adolescence being a cheerleader.
Maybe it’s because I know the long hours of training and conditioning it takes.
Maybe it’s the cheers and chants drilled into my head.
The one thing I know is cheerleading is without a doubt a sport.
I’ve had several conversations turned arguments over this controversial topic, and each time I have taken it personally.
I understand the opposition to my admittedly strong viewpoint, but clapping on the sidelines of football games is not the cheer I know. It is so much more than that.
The sport I spent a majority of my adolescence perfecting is made up of tumbling, stunting and dancing.
From the young age of 7, I was training to make the roster for my school spirit team concluding with my high school’s varsity cheer team.
Throughout my years of cheerleading, I woke up before the sun to train alongside the football team. I lifted weights, I ran the track—everything required in the recipe to make a sport.
I cannot wrap my high-pony wearing head around the opposition when I have lifted people more than half my own weight over my head from the age of 7.
I cannot regain the muscles I lost in my knee that were torn as a result of the sport.
Track is a sport because they run, jump, and throw.
Softball is a sport because they run, throw, and catch.
Football is a sport because they run, throw, catch and hit other people.
Each of these sports have never been questioned and the main argument for their case is that they each have competitors and opponents.
So does cheerleading.
There are national and worldwide competitions where cheerleading teams from all over come to ultimately “win.”
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) televises The Cheerleading Worlds hosted by the United States All Star Federation (USASF) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida each year dating back to 2004.
Teams ranging from Germany to Australia attend the event specified for division 5 teams or higher.
I don’t think the question pertains to the capability of these athletes to be considered a sport, rather the inability for viewers to move further than clapping on the side of a football game; ignoring the difficult halftime routines, sideline stunts and active participation incompetions.
Along with competitions, universities and colleges accommodate cheerleaders with athletic scholarships just like any other sport.
The University of Hawaii offers nearly a dozen full-ride scholarships each year, according to their website. While universities like The University of Kentucky and Louisiana State University offers over $2,000 in scholarships.
There will always be nay-sayers.
Maybe it’s because they don’t recognize the effort that is equal, and sometimes greater, to other sports.
Maybe it’s because some athletes feel intimidated by that fact that cheerleaders can lift human beings over their head, while sporting a smile on their face.
It’s okay, I get it.
Cheerleading is hard, it requires determination, sportsmanship and supreme athleticism.
Even the National Collegiate Athletic Association categorizes stunt and tumbling as a sport.
Oh, by the way. Both are parts of the much larger sport that is cheerleading.
This article is part of a Pro versus Con debate between reporters.
view the Con article on the illegitimacy of cheer as a sport -here-