That question is as old as time, and has been debated for years and honestly, I’ve probably been on both sides of that question. However, I’m comfortable with where I stand today. So my answer to, “is cheerleading a sport?” is “who cares?”
Not that I don’t care about cheerleading, nothing could be further from the truth, cheerleading is how a met my wife, cheer is the only reason I made it through college, it’s how I make a living, and it’s through cheer I have an impact on the world. I love cheer! However, cheer being called a sport doesn’t carry as much weight with me as it once did. I just don’t need anyone’s approval anymore. Typically, the conversation comes about because a cheerleader is defending their honor against someone who has taken an opposing view against cheerleading.
When we break this down, the cheerleader is simply trying to say to their peers, “what I have decided to dedicate myself to, and where my talents lie, is just as important as how you spend your time.” At the root of it, cheerleaders are essentially saying, “though I am not a football player, it doesn’t mean I have less significance than you.” Cheerleaders are often hearing from their peers, “Since I play football/basketball/softball/volleyball, I have more value than you.” And when cheer parents hop into the conversation and say, “I’d like to see your child try cheer for a day,” it can really be translated into, “my kid is just as important and talented as yours.”
So that’s why I’ve given up on the debate. Who cares? I have poured my heart into this sport for almost 20 years, and it needs no one’s approval. If a law passes that says cheer is officially a sport, it won’t make me love it anymore, nor would a law forever denying cheerleading as anything more than an activity would make me love it any less. So call it a sport, call it no more than a sport than painting or cards, that has no bearing on my significance as a person, or the passion I will continue to pour into our gym, our athletes and our industry!