It came up the other day on the air that I used to be a professional cheerleader. I cheered for the WNBA, Minnesota Lynx from 2000-2002. I also cheered for a couple of NBA drafts. Very exciting experience! We were mostly a dance team that performed co-ed stunts from time to time. It was a lot of work. I was still in high school at the time so after class and studying I would attend four hour practices in downtown Minneapolis at the Target Center which was about 30 minutes from my parent’s house. It was extremely competitive. The experience taught me discipline, teamwork, confidence, commitment, time management skills among other character builders. I miss those days of being on the court and pumping up the crowd. As I was telling Dave and Pat about my experience as a professional cheerleader the argument of it actually being a sport came up. My argument - yes – it is a sport! Yes, because you are part of a team, it’s physically demanding, and can be competitive. The boy’s argument - no. No, because you don’t compete against anyone else at the same time – you don’t have to react to an opponent. I see their argument but I found an article that supports my side of the debate:
“The truth is there really isn't a solid definition of ‘official’ sport. When necessary, the office of Civil Rights makes this determination on a case by case basis. The Women’s Sports Foundation has narrowed the field down of what is considered a sport to these elements that are commonly agreed upon to define a sport:
• It must be a physical activity which involves propelling a mass through space or overcoming the resistance of mass. (Stunting… check)!
• “Contesting” or competing against/with an opponent is required (Competition… check)!
• It must be governed by rules that explicitly define the time, space, and purpose of the contest and the conditions under which a winner is declared. (Time limits, mat size, score sheets… check, check, check)!
• Acknowledgement that the primary purpose of the competition is a comparison of the relative skills of the participants. (You know those competitions on ESPN? Those are national championships… check)!
So far, cheerleading is four for four! But there are still two more qualifications to meet for cheerleading to be considered a sport. The Women’s Sports Foundation makes it clear that “any physical activity in which relative performance can be judged or qualified can be developed into a competitive sport as long as:
1) The physical activity includes the above defined elements (got them!) and…
2) The primary purpose is competition verses other teams or individuals within a competition structure comparable to other ‘athletic’ activities.”
This is where your argument ends. Not because of any physical definition –as you can see cheerleading meets ALL of the athletic specifications, but because cheerleading’s primary purpose to support high school athletic teams, and competition comes second!”
After reading this article, I still stand by my argument that cheerleading IS a sport! You make your own decision. For more information on the Cheerleading is a Sport argument, check out the AACCA (American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors) website, www.aacca.org
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