Is Cheerleading a Sport?

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Ashley Watkins Watkins 1
Ms. Peet
English 110.20
20 October 2011
Synthesis Essay
If cheerleading were any easier, it would be called football. In most cases, many people tend to laugh at the idea of cheerleading being called a sport. For decades cheerleading has been seen as a girls’ only activity. Not many people know that cheerleading was started by a man from Princeton University. According to Dictionary.com a sport is defined as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature.” Cheerleading fits this description and is still not considered a sport. With all the strength, flexibility, and injuries cheerleaders endure daily, I would say that cheerleading is a sport.

Cheerleading was first introduced at Princeton University in the 1880s. A Princeton University student’s imitation of a train got the crowd involved and pumped up at a football game. This became the first cheer in history. The initial stages of cheerleading was just crowd involvement. The University of Minnesota had the world’s first official, organized, cheerleading squad. When cheerleading was first started, the squads were made up of all men. Then girls started getting interested in cheerleading. Boys moved away from cheerleading and it became an all-girl activity. Most of today’s cheerleading squads are made up of men and women. According to Theresa Crouse, Christie Griffin, Tara Jeroloman, Blanche Kapustin, Chris Korotky, Sara McDaniel, Liza Mooney and Shane Womack, who are editors and writers of Inside Cheerleading Magazine, back in the day “cheerleaders were clad in bulky sweaters and carried oversized props; contemporary squads peppy skirts, diminutive poms, and a whole lot of

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athletic prowess.”(pg. 10) Even back then cheerleaders showed a lot of skill. Over 100 years later skills have progressed and have become extremely complex. Today’s cheerleading is even more evolved and intricate. Cheerleading routines are made up from elements of gymnastics, synchronized dancing, jumps, cheers, and stunting. These elements require a lot of skill, strength, and athleticism. There are different levels of cheerleading. There is the Pop Warner level, which is for ages 4-15. Then there is the high school level. Then there is the college and pro-team level. With each level the difficulty is raised and the athletes are more skilled. The Pop-Warner, high school college and pro-teams cheer for sports teams. They go to games, support the teams, and get the crowd involved. They also do performances and compete in competitions. Another type of cheer team would be an All Star Team. An all-star team doesn’t cheer at sports games, they only compete. There focus, all year round, is competitions.

What makes a sport a sport? According to Alexiev Goodenov, who is a correspondent on the Bleacher Report, in his article “ The Definition of Sports”, “… there is no clear definition for a sport, but there are numerous themes.” He means that a sport can many have many definitions because there are different aspects, or points, to a sport. One aspect of sports is its direct competition. There is always an opponent on the opposite side, challenging you to beat them. There is also the physical aspect of a sport. “… a sport is a physical game.” (Goodenov, pg. 3) In sports an athlete is always trying to out run, out jump, or outwit their opponents. Another aspect of sports is its fans. Without fans and public attention most sports would not be able to still be sports. The last, and most important, aspect of sports is the athletes that participate. According to John P. King, who has a Ph.D. in Sociology and is a graduate from Cornell University, and Peter S.K. Chi, who also has a Ph.D. in Sociology and is a graduate from

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Brown University, “Athletes are seen by many as special kinds of...
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