Though a U.S. federal judge recently ruled that competitive cheerleading is not a sport, his declaration also mentioned that it has the future potential to receive that classification.
“Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX,” his ruling said. “Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.”
One may read this as a setback for the sport, and in some instances, it is. But it also provides an opportunity to develop the four conditions required to classify as a sport in the NCAA. These four requirements are coaches, practices, competitions during a specific season and a governing organization. Competitive cheering has all of those things, so now it’s just time for some fine-tuning.
Last year, seven collegiate teams across the nation came together in the hopes of earning “Emerging Sport” status from the NCAA for competitive cheer. They developed a new uniform, a new set of rules and a new governing body called the National Competitive Stunts and Tumbling Association, which formed a practice and competition schedule for the sport.
When it comes down to recruiting athletes for competitive cheerleading, it goes beyond looking for athletes who can clap, yell and dance. The core talents of competitive cheer are stunts and gymnastics, which require an extensive arsenal of athletic ability.
The scoring of competitive cheerleading is similar to that of gymnastics in that the entire event is split into several segments that are scored separately. Each individual segment score is then added to achieve a final tally. Also similar to gymnastics, each segment is entirely different from one another. The team finishes the event with a 2-1/2 minute choreographed routine, a segment that most people can identify with when thinking of cheering in a competitive format.
Watching this type of competition, it’s impossible to say that it’s not a sport, and that the participants are not athletes. They are athletes, and they possess an impressive amount of athletic ability. Webster’s Dictionary defines sport as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature.” It’s hard to say that competitive cheering does not fall under that definition.
Still not convinced? Check out the video below from the University of Oregon — one of the schools to feature competitive cheer as an emerging sport — and decide for yourself.
Screen grab from GoDucks.com.