Sports Opinion: Cheer, a sport or not?

Just recently, The Today show on NBC featured a segment posing the question “Is Cheerleading a Sport.” Jenna Wolfe, an NBC correspondent, decided to go out and interview cheerleaders to find the history of cheer and even participated in a stunt. She realized all the hard work that goes into cheerleading and decided right there that cheer is a sport.

After much research and interviewing, I’ve decided that although I would love to be recognized as an athlete; I don’t want cheerleading to be considered an NCAA sport until the proper and fair regulations that allow the sport to flourish as it has for so long. Yes, I want it to be a sport that is not considered a joke and I want to be a real athlete.

According to the NCAA website, they are actually not considering cheerleading as a sport but, “stunting” as the alternative, where two teams would compete in a “stunt down." Each team would be allowed a certain amount of time to showcase their most elite stunts and out perform the other team. No, dancing, tumbling or actual cheering would occur.

I don’t agree with taking certain aspects from cheer in order to make it an official sport. It’s like taking tackling out of college football or dribbling out of basketball. The sport wouldn’t be the same. Why does cheerleading have to be altered from its former state in order to be considered an NCAA sport?

Although cheer has always been considered a female dominated activity, many males are now prominent in it and many all male teams have been forming and competing recently. This debunks the argument of Title IX, which requires sex equity for extracurricular sports at an educational institution.

Many people may be rolling their eyes as they read this article but, we are athletes just like a football, soccer, or basketball player. Cheer demands that you use all of your muscles to throw, jump, and tumble while you keep up crowd morale.

“Cheer is like a fulltime job…when your not here you’re still practicing,” said Talia Bagnerise SMC cheer captain.

Memorization of different cheers for different sports and dance routines, endurance and stamina are all required to cheer. “I practice 10 1/2 hours a week, I have to watch what I eat…it mixes gymnastics, dancing it’s a total fitness activity,” said Ryan Barner President of the University of California Competition Cheer Club.

“I believe the homogenization of cheer will hurt cheer as a sport,” said, Rey Lazano coach of the California State University, Long Beach Cheer Team.

“If it is regulated…many intercity kids on cheer squads that maybe focus on dancing and cheering because they can’t afford to pay for gymnastics would be shut out from the possibility of competing or cheering at a university,” said Lazano.

“Fear as a coach is that if it is considered a sport then it will be about the scholarship program and not cheering for your school’s team,” said Lazano. The benefit of making cheer a sport would allow many schools to offer more financial support to cheerleaders as athletes and not voluntary students. This may include the use of athletic trainers on campus for injuries, which is a service not available for non-athletes.

If the level of experience and difficulty was raised, then not everyone would be at the level, unless they could afford the training. Teams that are located in underprivileged neighborhoods or schools focus more on dancing and cheering for their teams.

By making a standard for cheer, those cheerleaders wouldn’t be able to compete because they would lack the resources for gymnastic and tumbling training. This would create a socioeconomic gap within the sport of cheerleading, which is based on the uplifting of others spirits.

So yes, I want to receive respect as an athlete, but not at the expense of changing the sport.