Cheer is Not a Sport. It’s an Art

Story By: Kris Hall, Online Editor

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The year is 1865. The North has the South cornered on all sides. Men have proven themselves as valiant warriors in their warfare.

The year is 1870. Older brothers mock their younger siblings for their lack of manliness in contrast to their acts in the war. The younger brothers, desperate to  prove their mettle, search for something that can keep their brother’s teasing at bay.

Nov. 18, 1875, the first football game between Yale and Harvard.

Football provided an outlet for Americans to prove themselves on a battlefield. With rules and guidelines, warfare was orchestrated from yard lines to end zones. In 10 years, men figured out a way to fight without guns. To hold a position, push an objective, strategize against your opponent, or assist your comrades in accomplishing the goal all came from battle tactics civilized individuals couldn’t practice any more.

A connection to sports is something primal, something we can all relate to. That’s because it’s part of what our hard-wiring used to be.

Way back when, early humans grouped up for safety. They had their disagreements like we do today, but instead of modern concerns like what to eat for dinner, their concerns were rooted in survival. So their concerns were more along the lines of can we eat for dinner. Fighting and warfare was a survival trait that was perfected. In natural selection, the strongest survived and that affiliation to warfare was carried down.

Thousands of years later, that trait has been heavily diluted by extended generations of peace. But it is still in our DNA, in our code, in our blood. Today we are sensible people and aren’t going to wander willy-nilly into war.

In its place, we play. We shoot free throws and wrestle, we run the bases and push towards the goal.

But sometimes, we lose. And that sucks. Sure it inspires some to work harder and be better, but it still sucks. To keep us from getting too down in the dumps, the cheerleaders  inspire us to keep driving.

For as long as warfare has been in our genes, so has art. Drawing on caves, singing around a campfire, dancing to the campfire songs, expression is what makes us human.

Cheerleading is an art form. It is a form of expression. While the drive to cheer and be good at cheer hits just as hard as the drive to run faster than others, the source of that drive comes from a different place.

Sports have an opposition. You have to consider what would accomplish your goal, then consider how are they going to stop you, then how you can still accomplish your goal around their attempt to stop you.

That is essentially what differentiates cheer from sports and into the category of art. There is no opposition. No one to stop you from executing your routine perfectly. As a team you work together to give your best performance.

While competitive cheer is still a competition, you and your opponents work independently from one another. You compete for the best score in the same way two students compete for the best grade on a math test.

From former marching band experience, I was constantly asked the same question, ‘isn’t band a sport? You have to be athletic and physically fit to do what we do, aren’t we competing? That makes it a sport, right?’

Physical strength and mastery does not make you proficient in sports. Sports has strategy. There is no strategy in flawlessness, because even if you execute a play perfectly, a skilled opponent will ruin everything.

Cheer is not a sport


This article is part of a Pro versus Con debate between reporters.

view the Pro article on the legitimacy of cheer as a sport -here-