Is cheerleading a sport? It’s a long-debated argument that doesn’t have an end in near sight. Countless conversations happen online and in person discussing whether our favorite “activity” is worthy of sports status. And more importantly, if competitive cheerleading will ever have the same resources as other sports.

Danger is Cheerleading’s Middle Name

Cheerleaders are often forced to defend their sport on a regular basis. There are a wide variety of arguments one could use, and some are better than others. And there’s one argument in particular that drives me (and many others) absolutely crazy: cheerleading is a sport because of its excessive injury rate and dangerous nature.

Many cheerleaders wear the sport’s danger as a badge of honor. Concussions, broken arms/legs/noses, torn ACLs, you name it… we got it. And when it comes to defending cheerleading’s qualification as a sport, people often cite the many studies that show that cheerleading is by far the most dangerous youth sport right now. For example back in 2013, The Journal of Pediatrics named cheerleading the most dangerous sport – over football- because of the high risk of concussions and catastrophic injuries that would result in some sort of life-altering condition.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a terrible way to defend something. I would like to think that we could come up with a few more reasons why cheerleading should be a sport other than danger.

Silly Videos of People Getting Hurt Isn’t an Argument

Countless videos exist online that show some poorly trained football or basketball players trying to put up a stunt or throw a basket toss that ends in obvious disaster. Cheerleading is not easy, and of course someone is going to get hurt if they’re launched into the air. However, with the proper training, technique, and guidelines, cheerleading doesn’t have to be so dangerous. And most highly competitive teams take the time to meet many different safety requirements.

Not only is it annoying to use the danger factor to prove that cheerleading is a sport, it doubles as an argument as to why cheerleading shouldn’t be a sport. When Quinnipiac University fought to make competitive cheerleading an official sport to replace the Volleyball team, they were ultimately denied because cheerleading has not developed enough. In the eyes of the judge, cheerleading is “underdeveloped and disorganized.” One can gather that crucial information on everything from safety guidelines to training to competition schedules still has a long way to go.

Just because cheerleading is dangerous, doesn’t mean it should become a sport. There are lots of things that are dangerous that we shouldn’t consider as a sport, like bungee jumping or sticking a fork in an electric socket.

Why It’s Important for Cheerleading to Become a Sport

It’s important for cheerleading to receive an official “sport” stamp of approval. When an activity is considered a sport at the college/university level, it has more resources available to them such as funding, scholarships, and locker rooms. In Quinnipiac’s case, they were trying to uphold their Title IX obligations, which ensures that women receive the same sports opportunities as men (funding, number of teams, etc.). More resources equal more opportunities which will help grow cheerleading.

There are MANY other ways to prove that cheerleading is a sport:

  • Pure athleticism
  • Physical and mental strength requirements
  • Intense competition, etc.

So when it comes to your next heated debate on whether cheer is a sport, maybe opt out of the danger argument and shoot for something with a little more grounding.

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