Cheer defends its position as a sport

January 4, 2011 — by Aanchal Mohan and Allison Toh

They boost spirit at sporting events and compete at competitions, and even most colleges accept cheer as a sport. But a Connecticut judge dismayed cheerleaders nationwide when he ruled cheer as not a sport during the summer.

“I’d like to look into what evidence that judge was basing their ruling on,” senior cheerleader Talia Balma said. “As far as I can see there is not anything that seriously separates cheer from any other sport besides the fact we also support other sports while supporting our own.”

The judge’s reasoning was that cheer was too disorganized and underdeveloped to be considered a real sport.

Even at the high school level, many students say cheer is in no way athletic.

“I think that movies and TV shows have a lot to do with it,” senior cheerleader Erin Wong said. “Cheerleaders have such a stereotype of being dumb and snobby and they’re perceived to have no capabilities of doing anything athletic.”

Students who claim that cheer is not a sport assert that cheer does not require as much athletic ability as other sports do.

“It takes legitimate athletic ability to be a good cheerleader because it takes a lot of coordination and strength to stunt, tumble and even do the dances,” Balma said. “Even though we don’t go to the weight room, we basically lifts weights every day stunting.”

While it may not be considered a sport by many, cheer has the longest season of all the sports on campus.

“We start the season beginning of August, we don’t end until nationals which is the end of March, and tryouts for the next year begin in May and we have practice for a few weeks then,” Wong said.

What makes cheer qualify as a sport is that it works toward a common goal, added Wong.

To support their case in why cheer is a sport, Balma looked up the definition of the word in the dictionary; sport—noun: an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature racing, baseball etc. Though the definition does not specifically state cheer, it does not state soccer or football either, making it just as qualified to be considered a sport, she said.

“There are sports like skiing and cycling that are considered sports even though they compete for a place instead of a score at the end of the game (which is what cheer does at competitions),” Balma said. “Plus, curling is awesome, but if it is considered a sport, I think cheer should be too.”

Senior Kent Paisley refuses to classify cheer as a sport because he says it seems to only consist of them being on the sidelines.

“[The cheer team] is there to boost spirit, the crowd doesn’t focus on them, they focus on the team,” Paisley said.

When asked to define a sport, Paisley said a sport had to include the athlete reacting to its surroundings.

“In cheer they just compete, they don’t really react,” said Paisley.

However, Paisley does not deny the difficulty that cheer requires.

“I’m not saying cheer isn’t hard, it is. But that does not qualify it to be a sport.”

Though it still bothers cheerleaders that many perceive cheer to not be a sport, many cheerleaders have learned to move on and ignore what others say.

“It doesn’t really matter to me what other people think,” Balma said. “I know how dedicated I am and how hard I train to be good at it. Nothing else matters.”

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