Respect the sport of cheerleading

Allison Young , Opinions Editor

I have been a cheerleader since junior high and I have never felt like any team I have been on has gotten enough recognition. I enjoy the perks that come along with the sport of cheerleading; getting into games for free, being right next to all the action and even cheering on some of my best friends. Although there are several benefits, there are also downfalls to being a cheerleader. And the biggest one is that no one realizes that cheer is a sport.

I cannot count how many times I have had this discussion with people about how cheerleading is a sport. We hold people above our heads, we do tumbling passes and we must hit sharp motions cheer after cheer. I am conditioned to do the sport I am in, just like any other athlete is conditioned for their sport. I truly get offended when people argue that cheerleading is not a sport because they do not know what it entails.

According to the website United States Sports Academy, cheerleading is ranked second in women sports for catastrophic injuries, with women’s football in the number one slot. “Cheerleading has become one of the most dangerous athletic activities for women. Evolving from sideline squads that once led fans in school fight songs to high-powered, complex, acrobatic shows to motivate the crowd, cheerleading is racking up sprained wrists, twisted ankles, damaged knees, strained backs and sometimes much worse.” The previous quote briefly explains that cheerleading has just as many injuries as any other sport.

Now I do not bring all of this up to scare people away from the sport, but just for people to acknowledge the fact that we do not just stand there, look pretty and yell cheers. Just like any team, we have expectations that need to be met; and when they are not completed we do what we can to better our team. I would say that cheerleaders are expected to “do cool tricks” as most would say. That would consist of stunts, jumps, tumbling and mostly to get the crowd involved. A football team is expected to win their games. And when that expectation is not met, coaches look to see what can be done differently. When we cannot get a stunt right, or fail to get the crowd to cheer for the game going on, we make changes to better ourselves just like any other sport does. All I am asking is for people to respect the sport I choose to participate in, just like I respect the sport they play.

All in all, people do not know how difficult something might be until they do it for themselves. So, give it a try! Step into the shoes of a cheerleader for one day; understand their world and all the challenges that come along with it. Who knows, it might be something you will enjoy! Cheer is something that changed my life and turned me into the person I am today. It is a sport that everyone should try so that they have a better appreciation for it.