Lindsay Rimmer – Sports Editor
What is a sport? A sport isn’t just a game or activity performed for others. A sport is a physical exertion of skill and strategy for a player or team that can compete against another for the joy of the participants.
But if this is a sport, why don’t people recognize cheerleading as a sport? Cheerleading is not often recognized for the immense commitment, skill, and teamwork that it actually requires. Cheer fits the definition of sport almost exactly, so why won’t you qualify it?
Obviously, most people consider football, soccer, or basketball a sport. Tennis, rugby, water polo, and often golf or swimming, are also widely accepted as sports. Some people would even consider chess as a sport. However, many people just don’t include cheerleading in this category.
The activity of cheerleading is undermined in general. Consider the fact that cheer is often paired to another sport. Unlike other sports, cheer accompanies “mainstream” sports such as football or basketball. It’s well known that football and basketball have cheerleaders for their games, but they’re not there as a side note. Perhaps they’re not recognized as clearly as football players, but they’re not just a side-piece like a snack bar or the crowd screeching in the bleachers. But because it’s an accompaniment, cheerleading is often overlooked for the skill and coordination it takes to cheer.
Some wouldn’t qualify cheerleading as a sport because it doesn’t fit the expectations of pillar sports. Pillar sports would be sports automatically thought of when the word is brought up or mainstream competitive sports. People often misinterpret the performances as easy – but this is the point. To show off skills in such a way that they look easy for the participants. Plus, difficult performances are much more impressive when the amount of work and dedication is recognized.
Senior cheerleader Nikki Leiker immediately exclaimed that cheerleading is obviously a sport. “I would consider it a sport because it’s a high intensity activity and needs physical strength, and you have to be well coordinated. We literally are throwing people into the air. We would compete but we don’t have the money.”
An anonymous student claimed that they don’t believe cheerleading is a sport. “Cheerleading isn’t a sport. Golf isn’t either, it’s a hobby,” they said. They were then asked to define a sport: “A sport requires a level of coordination and skill.” But upon noticing the obvious contradiction to their previous statement, the cheer skeptic ended up with a changed opinion following the interview.
Junior cheerleader Taley Rinehart strung together her thoughts on the subject. “Well, a sport is an activity that involves physical exertion. So when it comes to cheer, which involves stunting, tumbling, and dancing, all of those things take a great amount of work similar to the different elements of any other sport,” she said. “Even in competition cheer, you are competing against other teams just like any other sport. High school cheer is a bit different, but the amount of time and energy put into it qualifies it as a sport. You work just as hard in cheer as in any other sport.”
Although cheerleading may seem like it doesn’t measure up to other sports in the same sense, it requires a mixture of skill, coordination, strength, and teamwork. If that doesn’t qualify it as a sport, I’m not sure what will. Being inclusive is an important and positing note for the word “sport”. Variety is the spice of life, and sports. Cheer provides interesting diversity and should be enjoyed by all- as a sport.