Tumbling into the Big World

Blog #3

It has been to society, with much influence of the athletic world, that cheerleading does not receive the credit it deserves. Not only is cheer a minority sport, but its mainly performed by a gender minority as well. Yes, there are many co-ed teams; but, when you think of a cheerleader you think of pom-pons, bows, short skirts, annoying chants, and cool tumbles or something thereof. The idea of cheer as a sport is often scoffed upon as many do not fathom the hard work and dedication needed in order to be a strong cheerleader. Let us not forget to take into account that cheerleading has risks too. Yes, football players receive more aggressive hits, but cheerleaders thrust themselves into the air and have the capability to receive some of the same injuries as well. The idea of cheerleading as an American sport and pastime, let alone a sport at all, is one many would disagree with. However, I would have to disagree.

There is often a huge push on the idea that guys are better than girls–as women’s sports are seen as disability sports–much the same may be said as baseball being harder than softball, men’s basketball being better than women’s basketball, and men’s soccer being better than women’s soccer. As Mika’s article brought up, women’s sports just don’t get the proper spectators they need to even equate to the “hype” that men’s sports receive. Yes, this may be the case coming from an economical standpoint–sponsors tend to promote and finance male sports—but have you ever considered women to actually be better cheerleaders than men? Yes, there are often times when the strength is needed from a guy to be a base while tossing girls into the air, other times where men have better tumbling and agility, but have you seen the balmy things that women can do?

This just happens to be natural, right? (Property of P.Huddleston)

Let’s take flexibility as an example; this usually does not come natural. It takes as much stretching and flexibility as it does running routes as a football running back. More importantly, cheerleading still has not received the credit it deserves in order for it to be a true American pastime. It has the same practice schedule as any other female sport, possibly even more. Past the age of little leauge, cheerleading requires more than just a spectators aspect of watching the game and cheering the team on from the field, but also putting in the necessary work to almost serve as an accessory to the team it is cheering for, while entertaining its spectators as well.

Why do I myself believe that cheerleading is a contemporary American pastime? What makes it any different than football—as many football players can flip as well. Perhaps we must analyze the origins of this here “sport”. The University of Michigan Cheer Team, not a varsity sport, practices three days a week with weight lifting in between along with numerous other conditioning methods. But let’s digress to the idea of what makes a “sport” a “sport”. It it a physical activity involving some sort of mass? Is it competitive? Defined elements? Widely known? Does the competition reflect back to the relative skills of the participants? Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes. As for all of these qualifications to be true, you mean to tell me that a standing sport such as golf or even table tennis qualify as sports, but cheerleading does not?

Looks to me as cheerleading is harder than catching and throwing a football. How about throwing an 100 pound girl into the air, rather than a 16 ounce ball across the field.

Back to the idea of cheerleading as a sport—Title IX disagrees with all of the above qualifications. An act put into place in 1972, puts the idea of cheerleading to dismay. Specifically geared to allow women to participate in sports, cheerleading a prominently women’s sport, seems to not fall under this idea of no discrimination or exclusion. Cheerleading, whether truly enjoyed or not, falls under two major American pastimes–football and basketball. They’re the support systems similar to marching bands. Furthermore, we all know to what an extent of the little credit it receives, the idea that it is truly a sport. There have been many institutions attempting to defend their beliefs but get blown over. In 2012, Maryland cut cheerleading as a varsity sport after being one of the first to add it in 2003. With reference to one of our great national pastimes, and possibly the most popular American pastime, it is highly likely that it would simply just not happen to the sport of American football.

If care be not taken to prevent further downhill in this “sport”, will it begin to go extent—or will it become more recognized? If, as many think, cheer does discontinue receiving the credit it does for being a vital part to the support system of teams, what will replace it? Nothing. Similar to other sports, there are still National competitions, Worlds, and many more events to show competition. Better yet, cheerleading itself displays more enthusiasm than any other sport showing spirit at all times coming from the actual athlete. What’s better than a competitive athlete with good sportsmanship, right?

Lastly, getting to enjoy a group of friends compete! (Property of P.Huddleston)


One thought on “Tumbling into the Big World

  1. Hi!
    Interesting post. You have a viewpoint that is not widely shared and I found your ideas to be enlightening. However, I don’t think you spoke to a very large portion of the argument against cheerleading being a sport.
    You note that a lot of physical work goes into cheerleading. That’s great, but does that really make it a sport? Many jobs require grueling physical effort, but they are not classified as sports. Moreover, can you really “win” at cheerleading? Yes, I’m aware of the small percentage of “competitive” cheerleaders, but the U of M cheer team rooting on the football team on the sidelines, to me, constitutes no sort of competition.
    And lastly, what is cheerleading all about? Do you think it was really intended to be a sport? I think the premise of cheerleading is just that: to cheer on an athlete or athletic team that IS competing. The cheerleaders aren’t competing themselves–they are there to support their school, favorite team, or favorite players. At least, I believe, that’s what they were intended to be.
    We’ve talked about philosophers in this class and what they’ve theorized sports to be, and I can see some of their definitions being inclusive of cheerleading. However, to an extent, who cares? The real determinants of what constitutes/does not constitute a sport are the partakers, spectators, and authority figures involved in that “sport.” And, sorry to say it, but I think the majority of those people wouldn’t classify cheerleading as one.


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