A federal judge ruled Wednesday July 29th, that Cheerleading is not an official sport; stating that competitive cheerleading is; 'underdeveloped.'
This is a topic some people feel very strongly about. I was a competitive cheerleader from the age of 8-16, and I can say from personal experience a cheerleader has to be just as fit and Physically capable as any other athlete in any professional sport out there today. I spent many nights with legs so sore I couldnt walk up the steps. We would practice for hours on end trying to get the right 'routine' together.
Although personally, I am not a fan of NFL or NBA 'cheerleading' (I think the NFL has made the 'sport' a laughing stock) I wanted to point a few things out and make a few points on the subject..
The skills involved in Cheerleading leave no doubt that cheerleaders are exceptional athletes. To perform their activities, they must be as strong as any football player, as poised as any dancer and as flexible as the best gymnasts. They are athletes by every definition of the word.
In a dictionary you may find the word "sport" defined as a "physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively." It is the last part of the definition "engaged in competitively" that makes considering cheerleading a sport difficult. According to the Women's Sports Foundation the following criteria has to be met to be considered a sport:
A physical activity which involves propelling a mass through space or overcoming the resistance of a mass
A contest or competition against or with an opponent
Is governed by rules which explicitly define the time, space and purpose of the contest and the conditions under which a winner is declared
The acknowledged primary purpose of the competition is a comparison of the relative skills of the participants
With the criteria above in mind, is the primary purpose of cheerleading to compete? Well, presently no. The majority of cheerleading squads do not participate in any competitions. Their sole purpose is to entertain, motivate and unite spectators of other athletic teams that are competing. Cheerleading is most often defined as the "Act of leading organized cheering, as at sports events."
Although High school cheer squads take part in country wide competitions not ALL of them do, Professional cheerleaders in the NFL do NOT compete competitively, however they work and train very hard for the chance to be able to attend the Pro Bowl where only the best athletes throughout the NFL are invited to attend.
The fact that Cheerleading is not defined as a 'Sport' affects some more then others. To me personally, I think being considered an athlete is more important then saying I play a 'Sport'. These people work just as hard to entertain on the sidelines as the football players on the actual Field, hours of practice and strong critiquing are done in order to choose the best.