When asked what my extracurricular involvements entailed in high school, my first answer is always, “I was a cheerleader.”
This statement is normally met with snickers and rolled eyes, along with the reminder that cheerleading is not a sport. If I attempt to voice any sort of disagreement, I am quickly informed that cheerleading is a joke.
I can’t help but want to scream when I get this reaction, because cheerleading is one of the most physically demanding, athletic activities in which I have ever participated.
In 2012, a federal appeals court ruled that cheerleading does not fall under the Title IX requirements, and therefore cannot be considered a sport.
But the court was also quick to note that cheerleading does have the potential to be recognized as a sport in the future, as long as these minor requirements are handled.
I have always been an athletic person. I know what it’s like to have grueling practices, and what it feels like to push yourself to your physical limits. It is with that knowledge that I defend my belief that cheerleading is a sport.
I was never pushed farther, physically or mentally, than I was as a cheerleader. Not only would we practice for hours on end, perfecting stunts and routines, but we were expected to train outside of practices as well. As a cheerleader, I gained the endurance to run for miles on end – a task I hated doing, mind you – lift girls equal to me in body weight, and taught me just how long a two-minute routine can feel.
Don’t even get me started on stunting. Please tell me the last time you held a girl up 10 feet in the air, threw her up, and allowed her to twist and tumble her way back down, only to catch her gracefully and with a smile on your face.
Cheerleaders are often made a joke of in our society. They are told that they are anti-feminist, hyper-sexualized robots who do nothing to contribute to society. They are not, however, recognized for their incredible strength, stamina and physical ability.
As a society, we need to take note of the awe-inspiring talent of cheerleaders and give them the recognition they deserve.
So, come on, cheer on the cheerleaders.