Should all-star cheer be considered a sport?


How many times have you heard someone say that cheer is not considered a sport? Not sideline cheer, but all-star cheer. All-star cheer is another version of cheerleading, but it is much more competitive than the cheerleading you normally think about. There are many sections to a routine that the judges look at and it puts pressure on the athletes competing. Many sports involve physical exertion and all-star cheer is exactly that. Sports such as cheer can be dangerous and can cause life threatening injuries. As a former all-star cheerleader, I have experienced the amount of work that it takes to do this sport. 

With cheer you are put under pressure to go and compete against other teams at the same competitions. You must put your all into a two minute and thirty second routine. Every routine is unique in its own way. There are many different and complex sections to every routine. First, there is the stunt section where you physically throw people around and they look good while doing it. Forty percent of your score is based on stunting, and that comes from your main stunt section called elite stunts. Then there is the pyramid where it is a group effort to put people up and move them around while being connected to the other groups. There is also basket tosses where you throw the flyer into the air, and they do a trick completely unconnected from their stunt group. The next section is the tumbling section which is thirty percent of your routine, and it is spilt into three sections. There is running tumbling where you tumble with a running start, so you get more power going into the skill you are doing, standing tumbling which is when you have no momentum going into your skill and it is usually one skill followed by one or more skills. There is also the jump section where you jump and do a skill and can sometimes be followed by a tumbling skill. Also, there is your overall routine which is twenty percent of the routine. This involves motions/ dance, formations/ transitions, and dance section. With all the moving around it gets very tiring, but you have to keep good facial expressions, so it looks like you are having fun while having transitions to make the routine look smoother. The last section is overall creativity which is how high your score can get for skill creativity/ difficulty and routine creativity which means the judges see if the routine really grasped their attention. Having someone critic your every move really puts you under pressure to give a good performance. 

The physical effort you go through in cheer is a lot. Most athletes go through three-hour practices that have them working and perfecting their routine. As a part of the physical effort many athletes take extra classes to help them improve their skills. Many will take tumbling classes to help improve their tumbling. You must put your all into those skills and you have to use your strength to throw yourself around. When you create a routine, you go through tireless days of five-hour choreography camps where you learn new skills and use muscles you have not used before. Many athletes will also take it upon themselves to take privates with coaches so they can improve even more and build up their power. At most practices, coaches will even condition you to build stamina so you can have strength to go through your routine and not get tired. All of this conditioning and work help form a good foundation for not only yourself but the team as well. 

According to Elizabeth Quinn, approximately sixty six percent of injuries are from cheer related activities. Many injuries that people go through are torn ACLs, concussions, broken bones, sprained ankles and wrists, back injuries, neck injuries, and pulled muscles. Research from the journal Pediatrics has recently said that competitive cheer injuries are worse than football injuries. Cheerleading accounts for the majority of catastrophic athletic injuries. Many of these injuries come from landing a tumbling skill incorrectly and people falling on top of you while stunting. Even if you take safety precautions like using mats, stretching, using braces/tape and using proper shoes you can still get seriously injured from this sport. Cheerleading has resulted in one death per year and the annual injury rate has doubled since 2012 according to Elizabeth Quinn. 

The view that people have on cheerleading is just pom poms and chanting, but when you take a deeper look at what cheer really is, you will see how much effort is needed.