BY GABBY BUTEAU
“5,6,7,8” may be the only chant you hear a cheerleader say in today’s age, replacing the cheers and pom poms of yesterday. Today, the main focus of this debated sport is a much more athletically challenging two minutes and thirty seconds routine that exhibits some of the most difficult skills someone can attempt. From lifting people their own size above their head, to flipping in the air until it becomes difficult to see, cheerleaders are athletes participating in an exacting and demanding activity. All-star cheerleading is more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle.
A sport is defined as an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. When giving examples of sport, no one has listed cheerleading as an option. So the real question is whether cheerleading lacks anything within the definition. Well for starters, tumbling and stunting all require physical exertion (a lot of it too). Check. Next, a sport can be defined as skills that appeal to people’s entertainment while competing against others. Considering more than 9,000 teams gather at the World Championship and over 40 countries come to watch and attend, I’d say many people are entertained by the world of cheerleading, and the competition is anything but easy. Check.
ESPN Wide World of Sports, as well as state and national events, offer competitions from November to May where cheerleaders come together to showcase their routine over two days of a weekend. There is no room for mistakes. There is no room for half time or time outs. Teams get one shot, and if there’s anything but perfection, everything they worked for has been thrown out the window.
Cheerleading not only takes a huge amount physical ability, but it also takes real guts . To take the stage praying that the routine is flawless, and hoping you’ll be able to stay 10 feet in the air while smiling until it hurts, takes skill and confidence.
Personally, I joined all-star cheerleading with low expectations of the agility that it would demand, along with the commitment. The work ethic all-star cheer takes is more than most people would expect. Although two minutes and thirty seconds is a short amount of time, in the cheer world, it seems as if its hours on end of straight torture. Doing this continuously for a consistent two hours at practice is physically and mentally difficult.
Everything included in cheer is anything but average, and not something that is easily picked up. So, next time you hear the word cheerleading, don’t think of pom poms and spirit fingers, but instead a year round sport that takes serious skill to attempt.