The Age-Old Debate on Cheerleading

Vista varsity cheer coach Amber White believes it’s “all in the eye of the beholder” whether or not cheerleading is a sport; however, some people wonder if a bunch of popular girls grouped together should even be considered athletic.

Before anything, it’s important to understand the definition of the word sport. According to the Webster Dictionary, a sport is “[a] physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.”

With this definition in mind, cheer is definitely a sport.

All forms of cheer require strength, endurance, flexibility, and most importantly–time. “Cheerleaders put just as much time as any other sport here,” said Vista’s sports director Mark Keeton.

Cheer takes hours of practice and requires dedication. “Some of the stuff they do is definitely not easy,” said Powder Puff cheer attendant Nick Valentine.

A flyer must constantly control their weight and keep their abdominal muscles tight as they remain straight. The three girls who lift the girl, called the base, use all the muscles in their arms, wrists, shoulders and back. Many other one-person stunts, such as backwards hand-springs and back-flip twists, require the entire core to be flexed while simultaneously using your other body parts in motion. None of it is as simple as chanting or waving pom-poms.

Sometimes the question of cheer being a sport comes from the cheerleaders themselves. “As a cheerleader of eight years and participating in both high school and competitive cheerleading, I’d have to say that cheer is most definitely a sport,” said 2013 graduate Camille Wilkins. “However, high school cheerleaders sometimes focus too much on the drama and not the sport behind it.”

Many people believe cheerleading is not a sport because of the over-the-top drama that is usually enveloped within it. Comments such as, “She was talking to my boyfriend!” and “Did you see what she was wearing yesterday?” usually make their way into practice conversation causing gossip among the teammates.

The drama can’t be a surprise, though. When you have girls who are already gossiping outside of the team and then bring them together, there’s bound to be some sort of drama during practice. “Drama will usually ensue anytime there are large groups of teenage girls who are together more than four hours a week,” said White.

And drama can happen in any sport. If it happens on the football team, is football any less of a sport?

At the end of the day though, the girls must put aside their differences and work hard together in order to perform and compete in the sport of cheer.