Is cheerleading a real sport?
by Steven Kiser
I was watching TSN the other day, and they had coverage of some cheerleading competition. For my general amusement, I decided I would watch. About ten minutes into the event, I was having a tough time deciding which was the more degrading job, the people who were doing the colour commentary, or the male cheerleaders wearing their little sweater vests. I couldn’t believe that TSN was going through all the effort to make it look like a recognized sporting competition, but then I remembered how they do the same thing with spelling bees and poker.
I’m sure there are very good arguments that claim cheerleading is a sport; the “athletes” physically exert themselves and provide an entertaining performance…but so does Jenna Jameson. The bottom line is, cheerleading is not recognized as a sport because even though it may meet the definition of what a sport is, nobody except the cheerleaders gives a crap about it. When I go to see the Riders or Rams play, I have every intention of watching the football game; I do not go to Taylor Field to cheer for a bunch of women who shake their pom-poms and climb on each other, if I want to do that, I can go to a strip club.
It takes more than a few well-choreographed routines to impress the average sports fan, because they really don’t take a hell of a lot of god-given ability. I am positive I could pull ten of the women from the Cougars hockey team off the ice and have them perform the exact same routine as the cheerleaders within an hour. On the other hand, if ten of the cheerleaders were to lace up a pair of skates and go play a game of hockey, I doubt their cheers would help them very much. Do you see what I am getting at here, folks? It is called skill, and cheerleading doesn’t require it.
Have no fear girls, nobody blames you for claiming that your little activity is a sport. It was that trashy line-up of movies that came out a couple of years ago, like “Bring It On” and “Sugar and Spice” that made the sporting world cringe and beg for mercy. Those wretched films are the reason that this whole cheerleading-is-a-sport band wagon started up in the first place. Can’t we just go back to the days of “Varsity Blues” where cheerleading was cool for other reasons?
So for all of you enthusiastic young ladies out there, how about you just put down your pom-poms and take up a real sport…like fishing? I am certain that you won’t miss the world of competitive sports that much, because it sure as hell won’t miss you; it would have to take you seriously in the first place in order to do that.
by Holly McKenzie
Cheerleading is one of the most misunderstood athletic activities of this day and age. The reason for this is that the cheerleading most people are exposed to (i.e. CFL and NFL dance “cheer” teams) is totally different than power cheerleading of university and high school teams in Canada and the United States.
Power cheerleading is a combination of tumbling, stunting and dancing.
Are power cheerleaders athletes? According to a study held at the Wayne State University of Detroit, high school female competitive power cheerleaders have fitness and strength equivalent to Olympic-level athletes. However, non-competitive cheerleaders were shown to have basically the same fitness and strength as an average teenage girl.
Is power cheerleading a sport? According to Korinne Oberthier, a member of the University of Regina cheerleading team, “No one can deny that it is athletic, and as for me I totally believe it’s a sport. A competition is just like a game or tournament. Every team there is trying to earn the most points to win. I think that the only reaason why people don’t think of it this way is because it is judged by a panel.” Like figure skating or gymnastics. In a recent paper by the Women’s Sports Foundation, the following elements as the most commonly agreed upon when defining a sporting activity.
“A physical activity, which involves propelling a mass through space or overcoming the resistance of a mass.” When a cheerleader is thrown in a basket toss, it is “propelling a mass through space.” Otherwise she still be on the ground.
The next two elements of a sport are “Contesting or competing against/with an opponent. Governed by the rules which explicitly define the time, space, purpose of the contest and conditions under which a winner is declared.” And that the “primary purpose of the competition is a comparison of the related skills of the participants.”
University power cheerleading teams have competitions. The University of Regina cheerleading team is competing in two of these competitions this year: Nationals and Westerns. At each competition, the judges have evaluation sheets and score each team on technical skills (stunts, pyramids, basket tosses/jumps and tumbling), routine skills, safety, spotting and infractions and overall impression. There are rules dictating what a team can include in their routine.
Lastly, to be a “sport,” “the primary purpose of the activity must be competition versus other teams or individuals within a competition structure comparable to other ‘athletic’ activities.”
I can not make sweeping generalizations about other power cheerleading teams in Canada or the United States, but for the University of Regina cheer team; the main purpose and focus of our program is competitions.
Power cheerleading is a sport. Cheerleaders are athletes. It’s time for this silly debate to end.