Cheerleading: Sport or Not? AMA says yes.
October 22, 2014
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At their annual meeting this year in Chicago, the American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates designated cheerleading as a sport.
“It’s a big controversy as to whether cheer is a sport or not,” Dakota Brewer, one of the four male cheerleaders on the Texas A&M University-Commerce cheer team, said. “For the longest time I didn’t think it was until I got into the process of cheering, and now I’m definitely gonna have to say it is cause it’s just as physical, if not more physical, than other sports.”
The AMA says cheerleading should be a sport because of the rigorous training and the risks to injury that are involved. Cheerleading is a leading cause among female athletic related injuries at the high school and college levels.
During the debate, Samantha Rosman, a Boston-area pediatrician, said, “These girls are flipping 10, 20 feet in the air. We need to stand up for what is right for our patients and demand they get the same protection as their football colleagues.”
With cheerleading now being designated as a sport, cheerleaders and coaches will now be required to follow proper safety procedures, such as performing stunts on appropriate surfaces.
“If you wanna be any good at it then you have to start training when you’re really little. Most of us started when we were three,” Meghan Gillean, a Texas A&M Univerity-Commerce cheerleader, said. “It does cause a lot of injuries… but we don’t have to go to training. We don’t have to sit out for three practices because we twisted our ankle. We don’t come out of the game just because we broke our finger. You keep pushing through. I think you have to be tough and really want it to be good.”
With the new regulations and safety precautions that will be put in place, “pushing through” it will most likely change. The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) is pushing for all coaches across the board, from peewee to college cheerleaders, to get the proper training and certification.
According to their website, “The AACCA Spirit Safety Certification Program is a lecture course, study manual, and timed exam designed to educate cheerleading and dance coaches in all aspects of spirit safety and risk management.”
Each level of cheerleading has different rules. The college cheerleading rules can be found at http://cheerrules.com/aacca-college/, which covers basic definitions, the overall rules and the rules for single and partner stunts.
At the Texas A&M University-Commerce, the cheerleaders like to try new stunts and cheers to add to their repertoire.
“We like to get really experimental so we’ll throw a lot of different stunts in practice that we’ve never done before and if we end up landing them then that’s something we’ll get to use for the game,” Brewer said.
Cheerleading also takes a lot of body strength and some gymnastic ability.
“Before every practice we tumble to make sure that each and every one of us has a back tuck or back handspring cause we find that to be a big asset when it comes to cheering,” Brewer said.
Emily Saldivar, another Lion cheerleader, said, “We throw 150 pounds in the air and people get knocked out sometimes.”
Designating cheerleading as a sport will help to increase safety and make sure that the coaches receive proper training. With properly trained coaches who implement appropriate safety measures during practices, cheerleaders across the nation will be able to learn cheers and stunts in a safer environment, and hopefully the risk of injury will be reduced.