The hidden costs of cheer

By Georgia Laganiere, staff writer

Cheerleading first originated in the 1800s according to Epic Sports, however, it was not officially a sport till 1997 when it was recognized as an independent sport. When it was first founded, the original intention was for entertainment, but as the activity evolved, competitions emerged and thus the sport was formed. Despite its official title of a sport, many people do not consider it so. 

Currently, there are two sections of the sport: sideline and All Star. Sideline is what most people think of stereotypical cheerleading: pom poms and skirts. They perform a routine at the halftime show of whatever sport they are cheering for. All Star is where instead of cheering for sports, cheer athletes take a two minute and 30-second routine and compete against other cheer gyms. There are different levels in All Star, ranging from level one to level seven. Sideline and All Star require each athlete to do three things: tumble, jump and stunt. The tumbling ranges from simple cartwheels to a full, which is a backflip with a sideways 360-degree rotation. It requires immense muscle to be able to hurl your body up and around as well as the skill and fearlessness of doing so. There are three major jumps in cheerleading that demand this muscle and flexibility, and often have flips off the rebound. The stunts can range from shoulder sits to complex flips in the air. 

Cheer is considered a sport on the national level and hosts annual competitions around the country through an organization called the National Cheerleaders Association; however, many people in society don’t label it a sport because of the stereotype that sideline cheer has imprinted on the people. Cheer requires skill, strength and dedication, which are all  the characteristics of commonly recognized sports such as football, baseball, and basketball.

At Maria Carrillo High School, cheer is not considered a sport by the district and is instead a club. Cheerleaders not only don’t get sports credit for their skills, but also don’t have adequate funding for mats and other safety necessities. Just this last year, one of MCHS’s cheerleaders got a concussion from stunting. Instead of going to Willem Winkelman, the sports trainer, she had to wait to go to the doctors for treatment. According to the Top Ten List, cheerleading is considered the fourth most dangerous sport behind bull riding, horseback riding, and gymnastics respectively. This danger makes it crucial that cheer is regarded as a sport in our district so that people don’t get seriously injured. It should be considered a sport at MCHS seeing as it is considered a sport on a national level.

 In early January, the Netflix show Cheer premiered and made a splash, not only in the cheer world but outside of it too. This show followed the college team Navarro as they practiced for the biggest competition a college team can win: Daytona. The audience got to see these usually perfect looking athletes as they practiced, got hurt, got frustrated, but kept going. I have a friend who has never been interested in cheerleading binge-watch this show because she not only fell in love with the athletes but saw how hard they worked and gained a new respect for the sport. People all over have enjoyed seeing this new and refreshing side of cheerleading that shattered the age-old stereotypes of the sport. 

At MCHS we have only one official coach because there is only one coaching spot available. Our other two coaches aren’t employed by the school and are there because they feel passionately about the sport. The football team has five coaches because of their funding. Football is also able to have Junior Varsity and Varsity teams whereas we can only have one because of the singular coaching position available. It also costs a lot of money for the athletes involved, making it difficult for those interested to get involved. District funding would help that, and the way to get more funding is through making cheerleading a sport. In our district, Santa Rosa High School, Montgomery High School and Piner High School have cheer teams and none have the proper sports funding a safe cheer program deserves. Cheerleading should be considered a sport at MCHS because of the sheer amount of athleticism and determination these athletes have.

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