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Coaches Sound Off: Are We or Aren't We a Sport?

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Questions: Do you think cheerleading is a sport and why or why not? Will being considered a sport help or hinder cheerleading?

 Tanya Roesel, Owner of Midwest Cheer Elite, OH:

“Personally I think there are various forms of cheerleading, so it would be difficult to lump all of these forms into one category. I do believe all-star and competitive cheer is a sport. It’s governed by a set of rules and guidelines; there are competitions in which teams compete against each other with placements and in most cases, athletes try out to become a member of that particular team or group. I think there are still some steps that need to be taken to solidify us as a sport, but taking all factors into consideration, I would lean more towards it being considered a sport than not.”

“I believe that once competitive cheerleading is considered a sport there will be some advantages that will help not only the all-star industry but cheerleading in general, but there will also be some things that may hurt as well. Cheerleading being considered a sport may limit sideline cheerleaders at area high schools from being permitted to participate in all-stars. If just “cheerleading” is deemed a sport and it’s not broken down into both competitive and sideline, then this could mean that any cheerleader who participates with their school could be banned from participating in all star during the same season.”

Janae Cardona, Magnitude Cheer, Reseda, CA:

“I believe that there are many aspects to cheerleading and all have their place within the sport. Cheerleading started with a few yell leaders getting the crowd engaged during sporting events and has evolved to include competitions, dance, advanced stunts, and tumbling passes. Traditional cheerleading, which focuses on leading cheers during games and entertaining the fans, continues to tie the sport to its roots and keeps the true spirit of cheerleading alive. All Stars cheerleading, which focuses solely on competition, brings the sport to a higher level by allowing the athletes to perform harder skills in a safer environment. I don’t believe one is more important than the other; well-rounded cheerleaders should be exposed and participate in all varieties of cheer.”

“Only time will tell if being considered a sport will help or hinder cheerleading. At this point in time, I believe it would hinder traditional game cheering, but help competitive cheerleading. As cheerleading has transformed over the years, the sport will continue to grow and change. It’s exciting to be a part of it all!”

 Janet and Mack Hirshberg, Owners Mac’s All Star Cheer, UT:

This has been a debate in the cheerleading industry for many years. In fact, it is the avenue that spring boarded All Star Cheer. There is no doubt that today’s cheerleaders are athletes; however, whether or not school cheerleading is a sport has been questionable for years. Cheerleading is certainly not thought of as other traditional sports we see in schools, as this was not its primary purpose. I see cheerleaders’ roles in schools much like student body officers. They stand out as school ambassadors supporting their school’s athletic teams, sit as a voice on school boards, assist in setting up school functions and are easily recognized as who they are by others seeing them at school events. There are a lot more schools who support this role than support the belief that cheerleaders should be considered school athletes. The problem I see in trying to make cheerleading a sport in schools is the division it creates. Not everyone who wants to be a school cheerleader wants to be an athlete. There are many who want to be cheerleaders, because they want the social experience and want to support the traditional role of a cheerleader. Then there are those
who want their school team to be like an all star team where all they think about is competing. Finally, there are those who want to do both, be traditional cheerleaders while competing on the side. While there are schools that can support two separate teams, one social and one athletic, they are rare. Some colleges might be able to pull this off, but the percentage of Jr. High and High Schools that can is a very small number.”

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