At my last practice, an athlete came up to me and said she got into a verbal fight with a classmate about if cheerleading is a sport or not. Pretty typical situation as I have encountered this many times even as an adult. So you may be asking what does it hurt except pride to hear cheerleading isn’t a sport?Well, much more than just pride…So here you go-
Problems that are posed
-Increased Danger of Injury: without recognition as a sport, safety is pushed aside. Granted this is mostly just for grade school cheerleading as allstar and college usually have more laid out rules. Two of the biggest problems come with coaches not needing training and practice areas being inadequate. Hundreds of injuries could be prevented every year if the coaches would have emergency plans set up or even just basic knowledge of how to handle an injury. Also, many schools have their cheerleaders practice in the parking lot or in the cafeteria- no mats, no protection.
-Less opportunity for the athletes future: Cheerleading scholarships are growing but are still quite rare. Few large universities will offer any scholarships for cheerleading. Why? Without being recognized as a varsity sport by the NCAA, there is very little money in college cheerleading programs. This leaves fewer chances for very talented athletes to advance past high school in their sport. Without money for college, some never get the opportunity to cheer again. Again this is a grade school cheerleading problem but even with allstar cheer there is very little available after high school age. There is no “pro- cheerleading”…YET (my fingers are crossed).
-Lowered self image and motivation: Being criticized and mocked for what you do on a daily basis really takes a toll. Your peers at school telling you what you do and love is dumb and not a sport could make anyone want to quit and do a “real sport.” These athletes are seldom recognized for their accomplishments as well, especially in their peer groups.
With so many problems in the world, I want to keep our youth doing something positive and continuing doing whatever they love. We need to just give them some support, but the only way we can do that is if we change the cheer haters into R-E-S-P-E-C-T-ers !