Cheerleading: sport or pastime? From the perspective of a NGU cheerleader

Cheerleading: sport or pastime? From the perspective of a NGU cheerleader

Casey Burton, Sports Editor

How mainstream can a sideline act be?

I owe it to my reader to be honest and say that first, I am in fact a cheerleader and proud of it… but I also would like to think that I’m a better writer than to willingly lose my credibility in the first line of my story. With that being said, from a totally non-biased view: cheer is 100% a hobby and not a sport, Sideline cheer that is.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way. Let me enlighten how sideline cheer and competitive cheer are almost completely different activities. Everything about it is different.

Sideline cheer is what people see at football and basketball games. All the jumping up and down, yelling, simple dancing and high-school level stunts/tumbling. That unfortunately, comes with the title of cheerleading. Most cheerleaders don’t even enjoy that aspect.

Competitive cheer is the holy grail that makes up for having to spend those Saturday nights yelling at the top of the lungs. Now this is why cheerleaders do what we do. This is what we devote all our months of practices towards.

Now let’s break down the definition of a sport. The Oxford Dictionary says a sport is, “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”

Competitive cheer is defined by the U.S All Star Foundation as, “A high energy, team-based, performance sport that is athletic, artistic and acrobatic. It involves athletes competing with a two and a half minute routine.”

The number of countless hours and hairspray that goes into perfecting a routine is oftentimes overlooked.

In a competition routine, there are specific sections that are mandatory to make the routine complete. Sections such as, stunting, tumbling, basket-tosses, pyramid, jumps and dance. The teams are judged on a number scale for each section by each judge (usually five or more judges). The section is scored based off the difficulty and execution.

The scoring is all strategic. Meaning, a team could score points by having a very difficult routine but get crushed in execution if not done well.

In contrary, a team could do an easy routine, getting less points on difficulty, but get a lot of points by executing the easy routine well. Ideally, each team should thrive to execute a hard routine the best out of all the other teams.

Another obstacle each team needs to evaluate is avoiding safety violations. A safety violation is the breaking of a rule at a competition regardless of if anyone gets hurt.

This results in a deduction of points. Each division has a different set of rules. For example, co-ed teams have less rules because they have men on their team, so they are scored differently than an all-girl team due to safety in stunts.

The importance of looking perfect is crucial and judged by the judges. The North Greenville cheer team just recently won first place in its division this year at the Conference Carolina competition. While this is a huge accomplishment, it was a bummer to find out that the team got stolen two points based off lipstick. Yes, lipstick. The makeup and hair of the team needs to all look the exact same while attempting extremely dangerous skill.

The question if cheer is a sport has multiple layers since there are different types of cheerleading. In short, competitive cheer is the only type of cheer that falls under the category of a sport.

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