Friday, 4 April 2014

IS CHEER A SPORT?



When people think of cheerleaders, the first thought that usually comes into their head is girls dressed in short skirts armed with pom poms, standing on the side of a sports pitch encouraging their team to win a match.  Admittedly, before I became a member of the Cardiff Snakecharmers, this is to some extent what I thought our primary purpose would be, supporting our male counterparts in a particular team. I thought we would be watching as the extra entertainment rather than being the centre of attention ourselves. I was so wrong, there is a whole world of cheer out there one that I'd only seen through the 'Bring it On' film series. The sport is undoubtedly one of the fastest growing sports of our time, especially for females.

My squad the Snakecharmers train two to three times a week in order to get to competition standard. Training sessions are tough and tiring, and are often extremely intense but most definitely rewarding and fun. Cheerleading challenges other sports with their difficulty levels, for cheerleaders need to be as strong as rugby players, as flexible as gymnasts and as graceful and energetic as dancers (in my very biased opinion). Combining these three elements makes for tough training.

Cheerleaders, unlike most other sports do not wear protective gear, they only have a short skirt and pair of spanx to protect them. In fact, cheer-leading proves to be the most dangerous women's sport as it has large numbers of injuries, with emergency rooms visits being five times more than any other sport. This is true from my own experience, with injuries even meaning that girls have had to drop out of the squad. However, the flyers have to place complete trust in the bases, backs and fronts that they will do their best to ensure their safety.


It is a mystery to me that cheerleading is not a sport, when it clearly abides by the rules of how a sport is defined according to the Oxford dictionary. It is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” As cheer-leading is not yet recognised as being a sport, the venues at which cheerleaders train are often not suitable for the activity they are partaking in. This is definitely the case for Cardiff's cheerleaders who last year trained in the Talybont Dojo, where it was not rare for a flyer to hit the ceiling during stunts. The university has not yet given the cheerleaders or any potential gymnastics team any suitable space to train in, the Snakecharmers have had to look elsewhere and hire a space off RSD a Cardiff based cheer and dance squad.

Cheerleading is a lot bigger in the USA than it is in the UK and I believe the sport is going to continue to grow and slowly get the recognition it deserves... but only time will tell. Would you consider cheer a short?


*This article was adapted from one that I had published in the Gair Rhydd.

2 comments:

  1. I used to do cheer-leading and I definitely agree that it's a sport! I've done ballet for many years too and it grinds on me when people say dance isn't a sport :P x

    http://underbluelights.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. Yeah dance is my main background and it is definitely not easy!

    Just checked out your blog, I loved it and I've followed you on bloglovin'!
    xx

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