Why is it that many Americans today are claiming cheerleading is not a sport? Just because cheerleaders don’t tackle each other into the ground, roll around on a mat in spandex together, or run around in a circle touching bases doesn’t mean what they do isn’t hard. Cheerleaders have to be in top physical condition to perform the stunts they do, yet other athletes and disbelievers are still claiming what they do is easy. Athletes may lift weights, but cheerleaders lift athletes. When was the last time you saw a member of the NFL do a standing back tuck after scoring a touchdown? Or a group of NBA stars get together and send one of their team members up into a heel-stretch? Yeah…I didn’t think so. The problem with disbelievers in this case is that they seem to be too stubborn to even consider calling cheerleading a sport. When presented with the fact of how dangerous cheerleading is or the number of injuries it produces each year, the response, which I have heard countless times from macho jocks, is “That is only because they are dumb girls that don’t know what they are doing.” Wow…that is such an intelligent thing to say. It could also be that some of Americans are still living in the 80’s where cheerleading consisted of screaming at the top of your lungs “GO TEAM GO” and the occasional split, kick, or pyramid. Cheerleading is nothing like that today. Cheerleading has grown extremely competitive and dangerous within the last 20 years. Teams are now attending weekly competitions half the year and doing more and more dangerous stunts. These cheerleaders are also not equipped with protective pads like most sports. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, cheerleading is the number one cause of serious sports injuries to women. The Emergency room visits due to cheerleading related injuries are five times more than any other sport. If a football player makes a mistake out on the field, the only thing lost is the game. If a cheerleader makes a mistake, a life could be lost. According to dictionary.com, a “sport” is defined as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature.” Cheerleading follows all of these guidelines, and includes a lot of physical activity. Cheerleaders perform difficult gymnastic and stunting skills at the same time. Cheerleaders also follow guidelines of competition, just like football and basketball. There are strict rules and regulations regarding which stunts are appropriate in different levels. It takes a lot of teamwork and synchronization in order for a cheerleading routine to be first place material. When it comes down to it, competitive cheerleading is a sport. It is a physical activity that requires skill and is governed by guidelines and rules through which a winner is announced. I believe it is time for America to become more open minded about what cheerleading really is so the hardworking cheerleaders in the world can finally get the respect they deserve as athletes. If some activities that require no physical activity such as golf, poker, and fishing can be considered a sport, while constantly filling the television time on ESPN, why can’t cheerleading? I don’t know about you, but last time I checked, poker injuries were down this year.
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