Eye of the Hurricane

January 26, 2010

A Sport That “Doesn’t Belong”

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenna732 @ 2:46 pm

We all know football is pretty aggressive, and according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, 1,006 direct and 683 indirect fatalities occurred from participating in the sport from 1931 to 2006. So, I think it goes without saying that anyone who has ever played football would be in a rare form of fury if someone ever considered it a “recreational organization.”

 There is nothing recreational about concussions, broken bones and lacerations, on top of many more serious injuries that occur in sports every single day.   How about a sport that sends 25,000 people to the emergency room every year? What about, on average, 90 fatalities each year? What if it was considered even more dangerous than football? Would anyone have the nerve to call it a “recreational activity” then?

 Unfortunately, this is the reality of competitive cheerleading across the US. Being apart of this “activity” for over 12 years, I can honestly say that every time anyone ever tells me that cheerleading isn’t a sport, I have to walk away and count to ten to save myself from going into a frenzy.

 We consider gymnastics a sport, don’t we? Great, because that’s about ¼ of what competitive cheerleaders have to excel at to succeed in the SPORT. Let’s add dancing to that. And yelling. Oh, and I forgot, throwing people 20 or more feet in the air with no padding and no safety net other than the trust of the people on the ground catching. I’ve had about eight concussions, five stitches in my lip, tendonitis in my wrists and knees, more sprained ankles than I can count, and sciatica—and I’m one of the lucky ones. 

Cheerleading isn’t about “go team go!” and pom-poms. While that might be part of it, and maybe all of it for some less talented teams,  it isn’t even a fraction of what cheerleading is really about for the rest.  The competitive teams that are out there logging 20+ hours a week on training, plus games, plus competitions, have the same drive, ambition and talent than any other athlete out there.

So when I’m told cheerleading “doesn’t belong” in the sports section of the yearbook, I get offended. I never have understood and never will understand the lack of acceptance, and don’t think that the “debate” is even debatable. All of those people who are so quick to judge this “activity” should go work out for one day with World Cup Shooting Stars (who are all teenagers, by the way) or Top Gun, then come talk to me and tell me it isn’t a sport when they can’t even catch their breath or  lift their arms up over their head.


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