Cheerleading is a Sport


Bellows Free Academy cheerleaders get the fans excited at a BFA football game. Photo credit: Adelyne Collin

Emily Hayden, Contributor

What is a sport exactly? According to, it is “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” With this definition, cheerleading fits all the criteria and therefore should be considered a sport.

According to, cheerleading has been evolving since 1898, and getting more difficult, with participants coming up with new techniques and skills that are getting harder to learn. Also, cheer was originally standing on the sidelines at games and being entertainment for the audience to get them excited and was not considered a sport. Now, with all the difficult skills needed, the different competitions taking place during the season, and all the training that cheerleaders go through, it is 100% a sport. Cheerleading is a sport because of the training that it requires and the competitions that take place to show off talents and compete to see who is the best in the world of cheerleading. 

Some could argue that cheerleading is not a sport because they do not compete and cheerleaders also do not work hard at games and there is no training needed to be a cheerleader.

However, to be a good cheerleader, you need to be able to jump well, tumble, memorize and be good at dance. An important part in cheerleading is working out and gaining muscle to help lift stunts and to get better jumps with certain drills.  According to, “A competitive cheerleading routine is just 2 1/2 minutes long, but cheerleaders must cheer, dance, jump, tumble and stunt the entire time. Because competitive cheerleading is a highly athletic activity that requires endurance, strength, flexibility and balance, training for it should include exercises that target all of these areas. Incorporate these exercises at every practice and perform them on off days in between practices as well.” Cheerleaders train by working on these skills and building endurance and flexibility.  They also complete strength training, stretch and work on balance. Cheerleaders train all of these skills every time they practice because they have competitions, which makes it a very difficult sport.  It should be considered a sport because of all of the hard work that goes into being a good cheerleader. 

In my personal experience, there is lots of conditioning and strength training needed to be able to perform all the skills needed in cheerleading and to perform them well. It is different from other sports because you only get 2 and 1/2 minutes in cheerleading to prove that you are the best in the whole competition without any re-dos or time for redemption until the next competition. There is also more than one opponent that you are trying to beat, and you are doing different performances that include all of the skills in a different order with different levels of the skills.

In cheerleading, there are many competitions during a season. Competitions in cheer have all different levels, and judges award points based on if no stunts fall, cheerleaders’ tight motions, smiling, and the difficulty of the skills they do (jumps, stunts and pyramids). Stunts are when three people lift a girl into the air, and she hits a skill, and a pyramid is a group of stunts interacting and hitting certain skills. According to, in 2017, 3.82 million cheerleaders performed in competitions that year. In the definition of a sport, it stated that there must be competitions or a way for them to show off skills, and in cheerleading that is definitely the case. 

Cheerleading is a sport because there is training and hard work needed to be able to cheer and compete, and there are competitions to prove the hard work done over the season. For years, cheerleaders have been fighting to try to gain recognition for their hard work that goes beyond more than just standing at a game and supporting a team. In the start of cheerleading, it was girls trying to excite a crowd and boost team spirit. While some of that is true, there is hard work and athleticism that the public might not be aware of.