Not EVEN a Sport.

I had a really good conversation with a Cheerleading coach today about skill building and program structure and fundraising and a little bit of everything related to high school Cheerleading.  We were about wrapped up and we had settled into “chit chat” mode.  That’s when the great philosophical question of the ages came up, which is, of course, whether or not Cheerleading is a sport.  I don’t usually engage in discussion about this particular topic.  You might notice I started writing this blog in 2011, and this article, 7 years later, is the first time I’ve brought it up.  But I’ll break that trend and go ahead and put it on record.  Here we go…

Cheerleading is definitely…



NOT a sport.

Yes, you read that correctly.  You’re on a Cheerleading blog written a former Cheerleader, coach, judge, etc., who just slapped every Cheerleader and Cheerleading fan with the classic and ultimate Cheerleading insult.  Oh the betrayal!

But wait.  Put down the megaphones and pitch forks.  I can explain.

First, we need to agree on a definition of what a Sport is.  Since I’m the only person here, “agreeing” on a definition is pretty easy.  I’ll just make one up.  A Sport is an activity that involves some degree of physical or athletic skill where the purpose is to compete against an opponent or opponents.  So, football is a Sport because football players run and jump and perform all kind of athletic moves to try to score more points than the other team.  Ballroom dancing is a sport because dancing requires all kinds of physical coordination and endurance and participants are trying to rack up more points on their scoresheet than the other dancers they’re competing against.  Pretty simple, right?

“Wait,” you say, “Cheerleaders compete too.”  Sure, Cheerleaders compete, but that isn’t WHAT Cheerleading is.  It’s like this.  Chef’s sometimes have cooking competitions.  Is cooking a sport?  Of course not.  Cooking is a practical activity with the purpose of preparing food for consumption.  Cooking is a lot of things.  It’s hard.  It was be creative.  It can be artistic.  It can even be athletic in certain situations.  But cooking isn’t “about” competing.  It’s “about” preparing food.  The fact that some percentage of cooks spend some small amount of time participating in cooking competitions does not change what cooking is.  Cheerleading is the same thing.  The vast majority of Cheerleading performances are not competitions.  The fact that, in addition to hundreds of hours performing at dozens of games and events throughout a season, they also spend 2 ½ minutes competing a few times a season doesn’t change what Cheerleading is.  Cheerleading is about representing an organization like a school or a community.  Cheerleading is about encouraging other people.  Cheerleading is sometimes simply about entertaining an audience.  But Cheerleading is not a sport.

“Hang on a minute,” you argue, “Cheerleading is very athletic!”  Well that’s true, too.  It’s definitely more athletic than a lot of sports.  No offense to bowling (a sport), but my grandma bowled in the 200’s into her 70’s.  There’s certainly skill in bowling, but Cheerleading is a much more difficult athletic activity than bowling.  But that doesn’t make Cheerleading a sport.  Consider circus performers.  Tight rope walking involves a ton of skill and athleticism.  But it isn’t a sport.  It’s entertainment.  Here’s another example.  Consider moving companies.  Professional movers spend all day carrying boxes and furniture and other things up and down stairs.  It’s hard, hard physical work.  Not a sport.  So I’ll grant you that Cheerleading is athletic and requires lots of specialized skills.  But that doesn’t make it a sport.

Don’t be mad or frustrated.  Don’t blame me.  It is what it is.

But understand something.  What I say Cheerleading is not a sport, I do not mean that Cheerleading is not EVEN a sport.  I mean Cheerleading is not ONLY a sport.

Consider this.  What is a so great about being a sport?  A sport is a game.  People “play” sports, like babies play with rattles.  It’s done for amusement.  Keeping score and making a sport competitive doesn’t change the fact that a sport is just a game.  Put in that context, how “important” can a sport really be?  In fact, aren’t MOST things in the world more meaningful than sports?

On the other hand, Cheerleading serves a lot of purposes that are more meaningful than achieving a higher score than an opponent.  Cheerleading serves the purpose of inspiring others.  Cheerleading serves to encourage others.  Cheerleading serves to entertain others.  Cheerleading serves to represent others.  Cheerleaders are ambassadors.  Cheerleaders perform in parades.  Cheerleaders enhance business openings and charitable events.  Cheerleading makes everything it touches a little more fun, a little more memorable and a little more “special” than it would be without the Cheerleaders being there.

When you do the math, Cheerleading adds up to be something much more.  Cheerleading is more versatile, more challenging, and more meaningful than playing a game and keeping score, which is all that a sport is.

Calling Cheerleading a sport is actually an insult to Cheerleading.  It diminishes it.

So if you’re a Cheerleader and someone decides to try to “insult” you by telling you that Cheerleading is not a sport, I’d encourage you to just smile and maybe say “Thank you,” and walk away enjoying the confused look you get from person who thought they just insulted you.

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One Comment on “Not EVEN a Sport.”

  1. reneywaters Says:

    I love your work! I blog for cheerleaders on the south side of New Jersey. I’m currently searching for Journalist just like me. I would love to interview you! please contact me ASAP if interested

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