I know what you’re thinking: “Here we go — another young girl getting all upset because somebody argued with her that cheerleading is not a sport.”
You got that right.
As you might imagine by now, I myself was a cheerleader for many years so obviously I believe it is a sport. There are many reasons why I believe this.
First of all, let’s look at the meaning of “sport.” It is defined as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”
Cheerleaders tumble, dance, lift each other, and scream. Also, cheerleaders perform their routines for a crowd and a panel of judges against other teams.
Just because a cheerleader wears a skirt, sparkly makeup, and perfectly placed bow on the top of her head does not mean she is less of an athlete than those competing in any other sport. But, hey, at least we look cute doing it.
It’s a competitive sport
I am not talking about cheerleaders who are on the sidelines, shaking their pom-poms and yelling “Go team go!” Cheering for the football or basketball team does not qualify as a sport.
I’m talking about competitive cheerleading, in which teams go up against one another. That certainly qualifies as a sport.
But try telling that to Quinnipiac University. They lost their cheerleading team due to a court ruling that cheerleading is “too underdeveloped and disorganized” to be a sport.
When I found out Quinnipiac lost their cheerleading team, I was devastated. I’d always wanted to cheer in college, and at Quinnipiac in particular.
Potential impact on other colleges
If Quinnipiac can lose its cheerleading team, what effect does this have on other schools, colleges, and on cheerleading itself in the future?
Cheerleading is part of a worldwide organization. All-star cheerleading teams compete around the globe to become world champs. It has become so popular that there are television shows to record teams and their journey to make it to “worlds.”
If that’s not organized or developed, then I don’t know what is.
Athletic abilities and dancing skills
Cheerleaders are gymnasts. They tumble freely in the air, keeping their bodies as tight as they can using every muscle they have. They twist, they flip and they jump to high extremes just to land their stunt perfectly on the mat.
Cheerleaders are dancers as well; they have choreography to remember. They twirl, they leap and they move their bodies to the beat — as in sync with one another as they can.
Cheerleaders are strong so they lift each other in the air. Flyers (cheerleader on top of a stunt) have to move their bodies in positions that they shouldn’t be able to. They stand on a base’s hand so they need a lot of strength and balance just to perform their stunt.
The bases and back spots (cheerleaders holding the flyer) have to position their arms and hands in awkward places just to keep their flyer in the air. The leg strength they need is incredible.
Lots of training required
In order to achieve all of this, cheerleaders have a crazy amount of practices. Not only do they have team practices that involve working on their routines, but they have tumbling classes, stunting classes and conditioning camps.
Cheerleaders are never off season. So not only do practices (and competitions) take up a majority of a cheerleader’s week, but also a majority of the year.
Now put this all together in a two-minute-and-thirty-second routine, in which up to 25 cheerleaders have to flip, dance, stunt and scream.
The time, effort, and endurance cheerleaders need is astounding and no less than any other athlete.
Briana Quintiliano of Shelton is a freshman at Southern Connecticut State University.