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Cheerleading isn’t a sport, it’s an Olympic sport

Well, a lot of people aren’t going to like this, but those people aren’t paying close enough attention to what this new ruling is saying.

In July 2021, the International Olympic Committee voted to recognize competitive cheerleading as an official sport in the Olympics.

They also voted to recognize rock climbing, skateboarding and break dancing as official Olympic sports.

Before I go any further, I need to clarify something. Officially speaking, cheerleading isn’t a sport, it’s an extracurricular activity; however, competitive cheerleading is a sport.

Some of my friends—even desk neighbors in the Spectator newsroom—disagree with what I just said, and I must admit: Their arguments are pretty compelling.

Cheerleading, the kind you see on Friday nights at football games, does involve a great deal of athleticism.

Bases and Backspots usually lift weights to support the weight of their teammates. Flyers do core conditioning in order to balance and hold their own weight, while they are held up and even thrust into the air during a routine.

In general, cheerleaders must stretch before performing because of all the bending, jumping, tumbling and flips that it involves.

The biggest criticism that cheerleading faces as far as not being considered a sport is the fact that cheer teams don’t compete against anyone, they just perform along the sidelines or in the gym while an actual sport is taking place.

On a side note, if we’re going to say that a sport must involve at least two teams competing against one another, then I don’t really understand how break dancing made it into the Olympics. I mean it consists of people wildly contorting their bodies at a rapid pace, and the winner is chosen through a subjective judge’s score.

Nobody can be mad at cheerleading for being voted in without going through break dancing first if you ask me.

Anyway, the level of athleticism required to be a cheerleader varies from school to school as some cheer squads perform complex and sometimes dangerous routines, even though they are only there to support the football team and keep the crowd’s spirits high.

I think that is why so many people argue that cheerleading isn’t a sport.

If the cheerleaders are simply shouting and throwing their arms around every time I look at them during football games, then I wouldn’t think what they do is athletic. Some school’s cheer squads perform routines that would make you think there was another team competing with them though, and that is hard for me to discredit as something less than a sport.

However, competitive cheer is a different animal altogether. You need to understand what you are signing up for, or you can be seriously injured trying to pull off its risky routines.

I think this is a great step for competitive cheer and can bring a lot more attention to the sport.

Unfortunately, competitive cheerleading won’t make its Olympic debut until the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

We will have to wait seven years to see what kind of effect this newfound respect for competitive cheer will have on the sport, but I think the sports world just got a lot more interesting with this decision.

Written by Zach Edmondson, sports editor. Graphic courtesy of Gracie Lucas.

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