By: Taylor Rock
CVU–What drew me to cheerleading was the unity between peers. At cheerleading, I’m family with the people who surround me. I’m a family with the community that I cheer for and so avidly support. It is a high energy activity for me to engage myself and others in. I have cheered Freshman, Sophomore, and Senior year.
However, even as a Freshman, I was always told by peers, “You’re not an athlete because you don’t play a real sport.” That is why I asked professional coaches to answer the query of: “Is cheerleading a sport?”
Ricky McCullum, our sports and activities director here at CVU, is clear when stating that cheerleading is indeed a sport. He stated “…when people talk about sports, I’m like, that’s definitely a sport. To me it’s similar to football as far as one of the top sports that are team oriented.” Cheerleading is a larger sport than what is simply presented to crowds at rowdy events.
In order for something to be considered a sport, what must it possess? I asked the coaches this same question, and all answers were almost identical. “For me, having a goal, having work ethic, and working towards something I think makes it a sport.” McCullum states.
Rex McCoy, one of our two Esports coaches, says, “I don’t think the physical aspect is as important. I might be biased being the Esports coach, but I think that the kids I see succeeding in my group are taking away the same values that I took away from high school sports.” McCoy is the only coach who did not answer with a physical component in order to classify an activity as a sport.
From my experience, I would define a sport as a cooperative activity working toward a common goal, with some sort of strategy and competitive nature. The Oxford Languages Dictionary defines a sport as, “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”. Oxford Dictionary defines cheerleading as “a sport involving organized cheering and dancing in support of a sports team.”
Cheerleading consists of two seasons: fall and winter. Fall cheerleading is classically known for being represented at football games, and rallying the crowd. Rahn Fleming, the varsity football coach, is one of the biggest supporters. “The primary function is to evoke energy from the crowd. There’s a lot of vocalization to it, there’s specific gymnastic and dance moves…” Fall movements consist of choreographed cheers, stunts, dancing, and tumbling. During the fall season, we tend to focus mainly on cheers and stunts, while we dabble in dance and tumbling during quarters and halftime performances.
Winter cheerleading is a competitive season. Winter cheer is known for intense dances, stunts, and tumbling. The competitive nature makes cheering extremely time-consuming with back-to-back practices, performances, and tournaments. McCollum states, “Just watching… It’s really impressive. You have to have courage, you have to have coordination. It’s a team sport. Everyone has to be in unison. Especially when you’re doing ones where you’re throwing each other up. Catching. Got to have trust. Because any mistake can be… the last. It’s very dangerous.” It is McCullum’s first year working here at CVU, and he has been extremely supportive of our team.
Jaden Parker, a member of the boys Varsity Volleyball and track team here at CVU, says that cheerleading is not a sport. He says, “In fall you’re cheering for a team… in winter it’s more competition based with no sports team that you’re cheering for.” I asked why he would not consider cheer a sport, and his response was “I don’t think that something you don’t compete in can be considered a sport. That is why I believe winter cheer is a sport and fall is not. Most sports don’t require another sport to be happening at the same time to be able to participate in it. And I don’t think you can compete against yourself and call that a sport.” I agreed that he has a good point with the differentiation between winter and fall cheerleading. I also agreed with the fact that competing against yourself cannot really be considered a sport. Is there such a thing as a one person sport?
I asked Will Sprigg, a variety sport player and member of our E-Hawks esports team, if cheerleading was a sport. He says, “No, it’s a hobby. You’re not going against teams. Taking two teams and comparing them against each other, there’s no actual interaction between the two teams, and it does not create a sport to compete in. It’s like looking at two videos and comparing them, and calling that a sport.” He defines that sports need real competition between two or more teams, and he does not believe that competition exists within cheerleading.
Coaches have qualified cheerleading as a sport. Some students have disagreed with that definition. The Dictionary definition of sport is debatable based on where you source your definition; however, cheerleading has filled every category given in the definitions to some degree. This includes cooperation, competition, athleticism, and spirit. I believe cheerleading is a sport, and I would consider myself an athlete. If you were in my shoes, would you think the same?