Respect The Sport: Are Cheerleaders Participating In A Physically Demanding Athletic Sport Or An Extracurricular Activity Just For Fun? The Oldest Debate In Sports...

4617 words - 18 pages

Along with the word cheerleading comes an image of a very skinny girl in an uncomfortably short, pleaded skirt with a big cheesy, fake smile. A mask of make-up covers her face, bright lipstick on her lips, her hair is up in a braid complemented with a big shiny bow, and her hands are placed neatly on her hips. Her face glows with enthusiasm as she shouts loud words of encouragement such as "fire up" or "lets go." Some would say that cheerleading is a corny activity and that its purpose is cheering boys to victory. These people would agree that without football and basketball, cheerleading would not exist. Others support and respect cheerleading as a sport and see it as a very athletic and determined activity with technique and skill. Are cheerleaders participating in a physically demanding athletic sport or an extracurricular activity just for fun? As cheerleading continues to gain popularity all over the world, so does the oldest debate in sports: whether or not cheerleading is a sport.Cheerleading as it ExistsCheerleading is becoming one of the fastest growing female sports in the world today and includes over 3.5 million participants in the United States. Cheerleading as defined by Webster's dictionary is "one that calls for and directs organized cheering." There is, however, much more to this definition. According to Jenna Ruddell, Chippewa Hills high school cheerleading coach since 1990,Cheerleading is an athletic activity which includes the support of other teams by way of leading the crowd and raising energy in a positive and productive manner, as well as Competitive Cheer is a recognized female athletic sport which show cases flexibility, tumbling, stunting, teamwork and vocal skills of trained athletes. (Ruddell)Cheerleading, sport or not, has both mental and physical demands. It is not simply a walk in the park and though its requirements are different from that of football, it still exists in the world today. There are sideline teams that only cheer for the other athletic sports at games, while competitive cheerleading is when the teams go to competitions and compete against other cheerleading teams. Like any other sport, both sideline and competitive cheerleading includes rivalry and dedication. Practices are mandatory and require good health and physical shape. From experience, the Chippewa Hills Competitive cheerleading team practices five days a week at five o'clock in the morning before school and then works out for an hour after school. What goes on at practice is left up to the coach but usually consists of excessive conditioning. According to coach Ruddell, "I think a good practice includes jumps, stunts, tumbling, conditioning, warm-up, and then discussion - goals, expectations, etc" (Ruddell).At competitions cheerleaders are judged on every move they make. Cheerleaders are required to make firm arm motions in unison as well as yell words of encouragement. They must hold girls up in the air with extreme awareness because...

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