Thursday, December 03, 2009

Is Cheerleading a Sport?

Recently, I listened to a discussion on whether or not cheerleading should be considered a sport. (I also found out the first cheerleaders were at the University of Minnesota. Interesting.)

I happen to think that cheerleading is not a sport. Cheerleading, but definition, is leading a cheer. It is definitely an activity, but the competitions are not cheerleading. They’re competitions of dance/gymnastics more than they are of leading cheers.

I do think cheerleaders definitely work as hard as athletes, but so do the debate and mock trial teams, and no one will consider them a sport. Cheerleading has the intense physical demands, however, which places them closer to sports. But some marching bands put in a lot of physical work, too (did you ever try to carry a base drum down the street, wearing a long-sleeve polyester uniform in 100 degree heat?), and they’re certainly not considered sports. Some musicals have dances that require a lot of intense physical work, but they’re not sports either (nor are they competitions, which takes them out of the equation, I suppose).

An unattributed column (Jason is the only name associated) published by an organization at the University of Cincinnati debated the question of cheerleading being a sport and came up with this thought: what does cheerleading do? Since its main goal is to lead cheers, what are we cheering for?

Cheerleading is an athletic activity, but I think it’s out of the realm of sports. When cheerleaders start competing, they’re moving out of the realm of cheerleading (by definition) and into the realm of a dance/choreographed competition.

The problem is, people have this pre-conceived notion that it must qualify as a sport in order to gain respect. I’m not sure why that is. People go to the ballet without arguing that the ballet is a sport and they appreciate the hard work and athleticism of the performers (although they appreciate the art more—which is precisely what’s admired in cheerleading competitions—and arguably figure skating and the floor routine in gymnastics…). There is nothing underrated about being an activity that’s not a sport.

Again, I’m not taking away anything from cheerleaders and the incredible amount of work they put into their art. It’s just that, well, I don’t think what they do is a sport.

Then again, I don’t really consider fishing and poker sports (hey, poker is in ESPN!), and I’m on the fence about billiards/pool and bowling.

Timberwolves update: They won another game! They’re now at 2-16, or a 11.1% winning percentage. The have the worst record in the West, but New Jersey still has yet to record a win in 18 games.

Wild Update: The Wild have won three games since we last checked in with them (I attended one of them—and saw Chuck Kobesaw’s hat trick! Woo!), no longer have the worst record in the Northwest, and have a 11-12-3 record, for a 42.3% winning percentage.

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