Nyimah Jackson Staff Writer
The debate surrounding whether cheerleading is a sport has been argued for years. The Oxford Dictionary defines a sport as, “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Basketball, football, baseball and soccer are all recognized as sports, yet cheerleading is not. How can this be true if cheerleading involves a skilled team that participates in competitions for enjoyment?
When asked whether cheerleading is a sport, former Eastern Connecticut State University cheerleader, Keyshla Morales, stated, “I think cheer is a sport because we do just as much physical activity as any other sport. If anything, we do more because it consists of flipping and throwing actual people in the air. It’s a lot more than just girls in a uniform jumping around and yelling.”
The physical exertion that cheerleading requires is often overshadowed by the pretty outfits and big bows. Cheerleading injuries have surpassed any other sports related injuries, proving that cheerleading is just as complex an activity as basketball or football. Throwing a hundred-plus pound person in the air and catching them or being thrown in their air while also performing a trick, are not easy tasks and require cheerleaders to have certain skills to assure that the stunt is performed well and safely.
A reoccurring argument behind cheerleading not classifying as a sport is because some claim that it does not require as much coordination or skill as football or basketball. However, cheerleaders must work out in the gym to build muscle to lift each other, participate in tumbling classes, choreograph routines, all on top of memorizing cheers. ESPN points out that, “an activity can be considered a sport under Title IX if it has coaches, practices, competitions during a defined season and a governing organization” (2012). The Eastern cheerleading squad has a coach, holds practice in the gym, and has competed in the National Cheerleader Association Championship in Daytona, Florida. Yet, on Eastern’s website, cheerleading is not listed under the sports tab.
Although the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) currently does not consider cheerleading a sport. They have recognized the transition of cheerleading and created a new program called STUNT. STUNT focuses more on the ability of the cheerleaders, which includes tumbling, tossing, stunting and jumps. Although it still has steps to take in terms of being recognized as a sport, the fact that cheerleading continues to be debated, shows that it is still relevant in regards to athletics and is progressing forward.