Proof that Cheerleading is a Sport

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A sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. Cheerleaders are athletes that work hard and are dedicated to the sport of cheerleading. Cheerleaders work year round with maybe no more than a month break between seasons. During the summer we may attend camps, work on conditioning our bodies, putting together our routines or learning cheers and chants. Just like any other sport, we have to have proper training or it can lead to serious injuries. In an article published by The Washington Post, more than 70% of catastrophic injuries in women in high school and college came from cheerleading. With that being said, we participate in cheerleading knowing that we are sacrificing ourselves. Some of the injuries we get from participating in this sport can last us a lifetime. If that isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is. But, we do all this to prove a point, that cheerleading is a sport and should be recognized as such.

TYPES OF CHEER

There are two groups of cheerleaders; sideline and All-Star or competitive cheerleaders. Although both are different, both require hard work and dedication. Sideline cheerleaders cheer mainly at football and basketball games. They may dance, tumble and shout or yell special songs or chants to encourage their team. Sideline cheerleaders also entertain and keep the crowds engaged and excited during sports like football and basketball. On the other hand, All-Star or competitive cheerleaders travel to compete against each other at cheerleading competitions. They have long hours of training to combine gymnastics, tumbling, dance, stunts, and acrobatics into a 2 minute and 30 second routine. I have no sideline cheer experience. However, I have been a competitive All-Star Cheerleader since 2007. While cheerleading I have been given the opportunity to travel and compete winning numerous championship titles, awards, medals and championship jackets.

CHEERLEADING WORLD’S

In 2004, athletes in the highest cheerleading division (Level 5) were given the opportunity to be named the best of the best in the country. In 2007, the same thing happened for competitive dancers. All being housed on Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida from 2004 to 2017. The Cheer and Dance Worlds was born! Every cheerleader’s goal is to make it to Worlds in Orlando, Florida and bring back to their home state the World’s trophy, medals and championship rings for their athletes.

Yes, this seems like just a ring to the normal everyday person. But to cheerleaders even today, these rings symbolize being the best in their craft and is a reward for all the hard work and dedication we put into the sport. These rings are just like the National Football League’s Super Bowl Rings. At the end of every cheerleading year, Orlando welcomes thousands of cheerleaders, dancers from around the world and millions of spectators (both in-person and watching from the internet).

OLYMPIC CHEERLEADING

From that point on it seemed like the sport of cheerleading has only gotten better. Many athletes were joining the sport. On December 9, 2016, the unthinkable happened; an article was released by People Magazine. The title of this article was “Now Cheer This! Cheerleading Becomes (Provisional) Olympic Sport”. The reason for this sudden turn-about was that cheerleading really was becoming a popular sport. So many athletes were joining that it would be only fair to give it its deserved recognition. The article believed that it would take about 2-3 years for the final decision to be made.

Well guess what, the University of Kentucky Wildcats will be representing the United States in cheerleading at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea! Also as icing on the cake, a new 300,000 square foot, 8,000 seat facility has been built to house the growing number of athletes and spectators on Walt Disney World’s Resort in Orlando, Florida. The project was started in mid 2017 and opened on January 12, 2018!

MY JOURNEY

I have been promoting and raising awareness and respect for my beloved sport of cheerleading in many ways. First, it started in my elementary school years. I wore cheerleading hair bows, championship jackets, etc. to school whenever I could on free dress days. My school essays and projects were also mainly about the sport of cheerleading. This would give me the opportunity to inform my school community about my passion for cheerleading as a sport. Next, it started with me, the athlete making sure to be an example to my teammates by taking my training seriously. This means, coming to every practice sick or not and getting there on tim and practicing in the gym as if I am competing in a competition at all times.

In 2013, I decided to start my Instagram account @4ever_dcu. My Instagram is used to gain respect for cheerleading as a sport by taking my followers through my journey to my goal of medalling at the Cheerleading Worlds. During the summer of 2016, I attended the United States All Star Federation BOLT (Bettering Our Leaders of Tomorrow) workshop. This workshop was all about leadership, mainly how to become better leaders on our teams and in our communities. The BOLT workshop taught me so much and it was only then did I realize that I had so much to say and what I had to say was important. After the workshop, we were given the opportunity to become regional representatives. I knew automatically that was my calling and that was my way to get my voice heard.

In order to be considered to become a representative, I had to create a Healthy Kids Challenge and complete it with my team or community. I completed my project with my team, filmed it, and applied to become a representative. Later, I was selected to become a USASF BOLT Northeast Regional Representative. I presented my project to a group of cheerleading gym owners and coaches at the United States All Star Federation’s Northeast Regional Convention.

Finally, I applied and was selected as a Chassé® Athlete. I am able to reach large groups of individuals and promote cheerleading as a sport by writing blogs such as this for Chassé and posting and promoting Chassé products on my Instagram account. Cheerleading has come a long way. Knowing that the first teams will be competing at the Olympics is so humbling. I also love knowing that if I choose to I too may have the opportunity to compete at the Olympics with the sport I have always and will always love.

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Christen Carpenter

Christen is a all-star cheerleader from Maryland and has been cheering since 2007. Her favorite thing about cheerleading is the excitement of performing her routines in front of judges and the crowd. She values the time and practice her and her team have spent perfecting their routines to make them as good as possible.

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