Do you think cheerleading qualifies as a sport? At 5 a.m. a young teenage student is already out of bed, dressed, fed, and is now stretching for the intense workout that is about to come. The teenager first runs a couple of miles with the rest of the team and then starts to do several rounds of lunges, pushups, and then sit-ups. After this warm-up, the team starts where they left off from the previous day’s practice with drills and technique work. Then the team works on skills such as lifting people over their heads, flipping in the air, intense dancing, and all with poise and beautiful smiles. Are you tired yet, well they are and practice is still not over? There are tapes to watch and warm-downs and stretches left. Afterward, they shower and prepare for a long day at school. This isn’t football, soccer, softball or track it’s the sport of cheerleading.
Looking at Cheerleading as a Sport
Unfortunately, many people do not look at cheerleading as a sport. This has angered many cheerleaders and their fans because most people do not realize the enormous amount of work that goes into making a great squad. The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors (AACCA) has become so discouraged that they wrote a position paper about the issue of cheerleading as a sport. They found in a recent position paper by the Women’s Sports Foundation that there were four commonly agreed upon elements that defined a sport:
- A physical activity that involves propelling a mass through space or overcoming the resistance of a mass.
- “Contesting” or competing against/with an opponent.
- Governed by the rules which explicitly define the time, space, and purpose of the contest and the conditions under which a winner is declared.
- The acknowledged primary purpose of the competition is a comparison of the relative skills of the participants.