Morrical: Cheer should be considered sport


Story by Hayley Morrical, Writer

I was a skeptic. Rugby is a sport. Basketball is a sport. Tennis is a sport. But cheerleading? No way. Cheerleaders can be athletes, but it is not a sport – it is not even in the Olympics. Federal courts have ruled it not to be a sport, and I agreed with them, until a couple of weeks ago.

Somehow after signing to play collegiate softball, I ended up cheerleading. Long story short, the Baker cheerleaders spent April 8-11 in Daytona, Florida, at the National Cheerleading Association national championship. After competing and spending some time tanning/burning on the beach, we spent the rest of the trip watching other teams compete.

I have never in my life seen anyone do some of the things these teams did – entire teams performed synchronized standing layouts. For those not up-to-date on their cheer lingo, that’s when you flip yourself backward, lying straight, but rotating like a corkscrew at the same time.

Girls that didn’t look to weigh more than 120 pounds threw their teammates ridiculously high into the air and held them up with one arm.

Flyers stood on one leg, on top of their stunt group, and touched their calf to the back of their head (this is called a needle) before rotating down to their group.

All of these things I can’t do. And I hardly know anyone who can.

To even be eligible to try out for Oklahoma State University’s team, this year’s national champion, females must be able to do a standing full, be thrown in a basket while flipping their bodies over multiple times in different directions, and have hand-to-hands with a partner (stay in a handstand on your partner’s hands, then flip your feet to where your hands were).

I know a lot of people who can shoot baskets, swing a golf club, make a tackle, or run a 100-meter sprint, but I don’t know anyone athletic enough to try out for OSU’s cheerleading team. It takes an extremely talented person to try out for OSU, or any Division I team.

In addition to athletic ability involved in the sport, any cheer supporter will argue the number of injuries involved in the sport as a reason to establish cheerleading’s official sport status, I don’t want to go there. I’m sure people get hurt tripping down stairs, but that doesn’t make it a sport; there are better arguments than how many injuries an activity causes.

When it gets down to it, declared sports all involve athletes challenging themselves to accomplish a goal. If flipping your body through the air backwards two ways at once isn’t a challenge, I don’t know what is. Isn’t winning a national championship the ultimate goal for a collegiate athlete?

If you are skeptical like I was, that’s understandable. The side of cheer that most people see, when cheerleaders are on the sidelines at sporting events, most definitely doesn’t require athletic prowess. However, check out a cheer competition live next time you have a chance or Google OSU’s 2015 nationals routine. It is sure to make you reconsider your definition of cheer and its current non-sport classification. It sure changed my mind.