The words “cheerleading isn’t a sport” are almost as common to hear as “like” coming from the mouths of teenage boys and girls everyday. Those words are true. Or, at least, half true. Sideline Cheerleading, an activity that involves supporting both athletic and academic events alike, is not a sport.
At most schools, cheerleaders do not have to try out to make the team, but instead sign up. However, the meaning of the word “cheerleading” has greatly evolved over the years. Competitive cheerleading has far exceeded the stereotype of cheerleaders as ditzy girls hopping around aimlessly on the sidelines. Competitive cheerleading is a sport; the second most dangerous sport behind bull-riding.
Many people call cheerleading “easy,” but according to “Cheerleaders Are Super Athletes,” by Valerie Ninemire, it is no less physically demanding than any other sport. In a recent study led by Hermann Engels of Wayne State University that included hard days of workouts on treadmills, stationary cycles, and bend-and-reach tests, competitive cheerleaders, “ranked very high in their fitness and strength.” As a matter of fact, in these tests that measured the girls workout capacity and lean body mass, competitive cheerleaders ranked as well as any top level athlete and showed “superior athletic fitness.” The fitness of non competitive cheerleaders, side line cheerleaders that is, was “not very different from that of an average untrained adolescent girl,” further emphasizing the difference between competitive and non competitive cheerleading.
To be as in shape as any other soccer player, basketball player, or football player etc., requires competitive cheerleaders to endure workouts that are as equally strenuous as workouts by these athletes. With this information in mind it should be easier to shed the stereotype that cheerleading is easy. Competitive cheerleading is a sport, and it should be recognized and respected as one.