On February 4, the nation celebrates National Girls and Women in Sports Day. This day is marked annually around the country and on Capitol Hill to commemorate the achievements of girls and women in athletics and to promote the continued expansion of opportunities for girls to play sports and live physically active lives. Unfortunately, this isn’t true, nationally, for Cheerleaders.
Historically, cheerleaders embraced and engaged crowds of high school sporting events, raising their pom-pom’s and leading the spectators in a cheer for victory; win or lose. Like all things in history, cheerleading has evolved into a competitive and individualized sport in and of itself. After the squad’s have cheered on their Alma Mater, most of them prepare to compete locally in their own genre of competitions. Sometimes without financial or moral support of the very school or organization they represent. As a result, high schools and colleges nationwide only recognize the activity as an expendable program to their schools throughout most of the United States.
Competitive “All-Stars” cheerleaders compete on multiple teams each year and/or cheer and train physically year-round.The physical requirements are equivalent to the training efforts performed in a gymnastic setting. Competitive All-Stars Cheerleader’s, especially, are required to have or obtain tumbling skills and perform some of the most difficult stunts in competitions nation wide. Cheerleading is the most dangerous and injury associated “sport” in the United States. Yet, these ladies are not yet recognized within the “Sports” genre for their skill.
With so many male dominating sports, female students still receive more than “1.3 million fewer opportunities to play high school sports than male students, and this translates into lost opportunities to reap the benefits of playing sports and lost access to athletic scholarships.” Even when girls are given opportunities to play sports in high school, they often receive inferior benefits and services as compared to their male counterparts. As cheerleaders, a female dominating activity, they receive none.
Recognizing cheerleading as a sport to be honored and supported nationwide can make a real difference in the lives of girls and young women–physically, academically, and emotionally. Not all girls want to play basketball, baseball or football; so it is critical to those who can, including many community and national leaders, to continue to seek support and ask that cheerleaders be recognized as the athletes they are and that the Sports genre provides equal and meaningful opportunities for girls.
You can begin by signing the online petition of “Cheer IS a Sport” at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/cheerisasport/. Your signature helps to increase recognition for the support of the bipartisan High School Sports Collection Act and the “quiet fight” to include both high school and competitive cheerleading as a nationally recognized sport.