This past Tuesday, Dec. 6, the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) executive board took a vote to recognize cheerleading as a sport. This provisional recognition means that the sport will receive at least $25,000 from the committee on an annual basis and may apply for more grants. This provisional period will last for three to four years. At any point in this provisional period, the committee may vote to give the sport full recognition, meaning cheerleading could then petition to be a part of the Olympic Games.
This means that we will probably be seeing cheerleading in the Olympics in the near future. Cheerleaders everywhere have long awaited this day. Athletes of other sports like softball, basketball, and football no longer have the grounds to say “cheerleading isn’t a sport,” since the IOC has officially recognized it as one. It’s hard to argue Cheerleading isn’t a sport once those in charge of the Olympics deemed it as one.
Cheerleading has long been featured on ESPN. Competitions have been broadcasted on the sports network, including Cheerleading Worlds, an annual international cheerleading competition. People are under the impression that cheerleading is simply girls in skirts who jump around, dance, and cheer for their football team. That is far from true.
Competition cheer squads, for the most part, do not even cheer for a particular sport. They are the main event themselves. Cheerleading has changed significantly over the years, and it is now a tough and even dangerous sport. Stunting, also known as building, requires teamwork, strength, trust, and a lot of practice as it can be really dangerous. As of 2013, cheerleading was the cause for over half of all female sports injuries.
But, competition cheerleading squads make intricate stunts look easy, as all good athletes do. Cheerleading takes strength, stamina, perseverance, and training. It isn’t just a girl sport either. Teams at the competition, collegiate, and high school levels do feature males, participating in both stunting and cheer and dance routines. Many competition teams feature as many male cheerleaders as females. In addition to stunting, dancing, and chanting, teams perform intense tumbling.
Check out this video of Cheer Athletics Cheetahs from the semi-finals of 2016 Worlds to see what cheerleading is really about.
Nationally recognized cheerleading organizations like UCA, ACA, and USASF have long been training and producing strong, determined, talented athletes. They are finally receiving more of the recognition they deserve. Hopefully in the future, we will see cheerleading take the stage at the Olympic level. Cheerleaders everywhere are celebrating the recognition from the IOC and it can only be imagined what else will be in store for this established sport.