Allow the above question of “Cheerleading is a sport?” linger a moment. Why is cheerleading not recognized as a sport?
Because cheerleading isn’t a recognized sport, different entities have the power to create rules, regulate, and even hold bans on certain elements of the sport. Some of those governing agencies are: the WUSA, the IEA, and the IFSA. This create a mess of the situation when you need to govern various components of the sport all at the same time.
Most sports require physical ability or skill. A lot of the reason that cheerleading isn’t a sport is because, it’s considered a non-competitive sport. By that definition, cheerleaders don’t have to be good athletes or athletes. It’s easy to see that this isn’t a viable explanation. When coaches take the time to organize and create a competitive format for the cheerleaders, the non-physical abilities that the cheerleaders are brought up to possess may no longer be the case. Cheerleaders often don’t have to be physically able to do stunts and acrobatics, so there is a chance that the athleticism aspect may not be a good match for cheerleading.
There are many that argue that because cheerleaders don’t have to train or work out as hard as athletes, cheerleading is much more mentally and physically challenging. There may be some validity to this argument. Cheerleading is the practice of being a team. It’s extremely important to be a team member, but it’s not the same as competing in a sport where teamwork is required. Also, the intensive training that is required for athletes might not work as well with cheerleading.
Many cheerleaders don’t get training, the risk of injury is high, and many of the techniques used are controversial. Additionally, cheerleading does not offer physical health benefits like sports do.
While some consider cheerleading to be a team sport, others consider it to be a competition. There are certain competitive cheerleading styles that would make it a very different experience than a team competition. Some are very team-focused, whereas others are much more about competitive individualism.
Cheerleading as a non-competitive sport is on the rise and with the IEA’s new inclusion guidelines, we might soon see it recognized as a legitimate sport in its own right. When it comes to the health benefits of exercise, I don’t think many would argue against that the opportunities for cheerleaders to keep up their physical health is a huge one. When it comes to the social aspects, cheerleading has plenty to offer that team sports can’t. So why isn’t it recognized as a sport?
To me, the most logical and viable answer is the one I believe. Competitions and sports require physical ability or skill, and cheerleading isn’t on that level. It’s a sport to a select few. A sport that attracts a certain demographic, yes, but not a sport in its own right.
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