"It's been phenomenal. Better than I ever expected, within five years, this is going to be the norm just because it makes sense,” says head coach at University of Maryland, Lura Fleece, when referring to the sport of cheerleading (Drehs). Although cheerleading has developed into a thriving activity, with determined athletes, demanding practice hours, and astounding bravery most of the world still does not give it the credit it deserves in the world of sports. In the past 20 years, the activity has developed into a worldwide, athletic phenomenon with competitive events of its own across the nation; starting in the United States.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines sport as an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature. Cheerleading meets all the requirements to be considered a sport according to Women’s Sport Foundation; except the requirement that the primary purpose is to compete against other teams (Hoskinson). Some colleges have altered their cheerleading programs so that they meet this requirement and can reap the benefits like other college true sports teams (Drehs).In order to help the sport progress colleges should divide the teams into a spirit squad and a competitive squad. This division would allow colleges to benefit in several ways such as: the coaches would have the ability to recruit athletes, the competitive squad would have advantages of other sports teams, and college cheerleading would continue to be one of the fastest growing activities in America.
In July of 2003 the University of Maryland became the first Division 1-A school to recognize competitive cheerleading as a sport (Drehs). The program has two different teams, one that cheers only at football and basketball games and one that strictly competes at local and national level competitions. The competitive team counts for title IX and receives the benefits that other college athletes receive, however they also must follow the same guidelines and restrictions as other sports teams (Drehs). The competitive squad is only allowed to have a 144 day season and the coaches have strict recruiting laws that they must follow. All of the funding and benefits for the competition cheerleading squad are comparable to that of other NCAA women’s sports, (University). In comparison to the non-competitive squad the competitive athletes get better scholarships, and have access to academic advisors, locker rooms, on site trainers and strength coaches (Drehs). Because of this divide in the teams, the University of Maryland attracts more qualified coaches with better benefits than most, and they are recruiting more athletes and winning national championships every year.
The split in the spirit team and the competitive team allows the cheerleading to receive benefits of other sports programs therefore allowing the cheerleading coaches to have a more flexible budget and can put more money into recruiting athletes. Most college cheerleading coaches...