by kylee seamans
Focused on team spirit and school sports, cheer is a fun-loving and uplifting way to show school spirit and support for their playing teams. However, people are often drawn just to the playful high school cheer and they are unaware of its more challenging and rigorous side. Competitive cheer teams train away from football field, and instead compete against one another in an intense environment to win competitions, such as the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) Allstar Championship.
The Internal Olympic Committee recognized cheer as an Olympic sport on December 6, 2016, after years of controversy around cheerleading being a sport or not. However, it is unclear whether or not the sport will be included in the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Although preparations for the Olympics already underway, it is difficult to see how the sport will be incorporated into the Olympics in the upcoming years.
Some continue to argue that cheer is not a sport and should not be included in the Olympics because the teams do not compete against each other, as required for an activity to be considered a sport. Instead, cheer is around only to provide support for teams and show school spirit at high school athletic games. This, however, is an incorrect allegation. In competitive cheer, teams of cheerleaders perform in front of judges who grade their routines. The team with the highest point value wins. “In a way, I kind of understand it,” Jordan Weiss, a cheerleader for California Allstars Sparkle, also known as “Cali Sparkles,” said, “People only see high school cheer on the sidelines and they don’t really see the competitive side to cheer. ” The routines cheer teams perform can take over a year of constant training to perfect.
Competitive cheer teams perform approximately one to three-minute routines of physically demanding tumbling, stunts, dancing, and cheering. This takes strength and endurance to continually produce new and refined routines. To condition their bodies, competitive cheerleaders spend hours training to strengthen themselves to perform high skill stunts. Weiss stated that she practices three times a week for two and a half to three hours. Good nutrition also has played a role in how well the cheerleaders perform. “If you don’t eat well, then you don’t perform well,” said Weiss. Without proper care for their bodies, the cheerleaders are unable to perform the stunts and flips they need in order to win competitions.
Trust also plays a major role in competitive cheer. With dramatic and risky stunts, a flyer must be able to trust that their bases will be there to catch them. Hesitation can cause injuries and disaster for both the flyers and the bases. Because cheer is a team sport, the responsibility of everyone showing up not only falls upon the team but on each individual player as well. The team must trust that everyone will be there for practice. If one cheerleader is missing, then the team may not be able to practice all of the stunts that they need to practice. It is practically the same for any team sport.
Competitive cheer can be dangerous, and requires high levels of physical activity, yet it helps to build endurance and establishes the values of teamwork.