UMW cheerleaders defend their sport from common misconceptions
By JESSIE WHITMER
Cheerleading is often assumed to be easy, to require no athletic ability, and to simply just entertain the audience, but many individuals do not understand the risk and the amount of hard work cheerleaders put in to their routine. Many times, people think that cheerleading is not a sport because there is lack of understanding.
“I most certainly think cheer should be considered a sport because of how dangerous stunting and tumbling is,” said UMW cheerleader Tara Adkins. “It irks me how people think it is not a “real sport” just because they only see us cheering and dancing on the sidelines. They truly don’t see the amount of work we put into practices for competition and otherwise. I think the reason why people say these things is because they do not come to competitions and see what all we do.”
Junior Christine Mears used to think cheerleading was not a sport, but has since changed her mind.
“I would definitely say that cheerleading is a sport today, and possibly one of the most dangerous sports out there, because of the way you put your body work,” said Mears. ”Cheerleaders have to have a lot of confidence and courage, and also have to be in a decent amount of shape to do all of the things that we do,” said junior Christine Mears.
There are different levels of cheerleading. The cheerleading that the average audience sees is the chanting on the sidelines during sporting events. Audiences think that cheerleading is not a sport because that is the only performances that they see. President of the UMW cheer team, Nicole McCormick said that she does not see sideline cheer as a sport. She said that when the cheerleaders start to do stunts and tumbling is when the activity becomes a sport.
“Cheerleading is the definition of a team sport because individuals in stunts can’t always be easily interchangeable,” said McCormick. “On our team we often run into this challenge when people are absent or can’t commit to the team. Overall, high school, college, and all-star cheer is definitely an underrated sport. Cheer has the highest concussion rate amongst sports. This week I got a black eye at practice. It’s not always the glitz and glamor that Hollywood makes it out to be. Cheerleaders who are putting in work during tumbling and stunting are true athletes.”
The cheerleaders UMW work hard. The cheerleaders that I interviewed all agreed that cheer is a sport because it takes a lot of time, trust, effort, and determination to be a cheerleader. If you have never been to a cheerleading competition, go to one! That way you can truly experience the hard work and dedication it takes to be a cheerleader and to support the UMW cheer team in action.