One thing I have learned from cheerleading for most of my life is that it is more than just a fun extracurricular activity.
Starting even before the junior high level, many hours of private tumbling classes are necessary to meet the requirements for most sideline cheer squad tryouts. Not only is the tumbling difficult, but memorizing many cheers, chants, band dances and stunts to perform at games, pep-rallies, etc. are necessary for a cheerleader at any level.
Sideline cheer is just one outlet of cheerleading. Another considerably more difficult and time-consuming outlet is competitive cheer. This type combines tumbling, dancing, crowd-engagement and stunts. Countless practices are required to learn and perfect a routine that lasts typically less than three minutes.
To put it into perspective, competitive cheer is extremely similar to a travel baseball/ softball team––it requires a lot of commitment from both the participants and their families.
Sideline cheer at the collegiate level is yet another cheerleading outlet that is more like a sport than just an activity for enjoyment. The common co-ed feature of collegiate cheerleading programs changes the team dynamic entirely. One of the biggest challenges is related to the changes in stunting.
On an all-girl squad, stunting requires usually four people, but on co-ed squads, “partner stunting” is incorporated. This type of stunting is considerably different from “squad stunting,” so this is just another new skill that must be learned before trying out at the collegiate level.
A major argument against cheerleading being considered a sport is that it isn’t very serious or difficult. And although cheerleading may not be as demanding as some sports, there are obviously still many athletic aspects involved.
I do have to agree that sideline cheerleading alone isn’t the most strenuous thing in the world, but there are still many aspects that are by no means easy. The great thing about cheerleading is that it can be the perfect balance between sport and recreational activity.