Is Cheerleading a sport?
Debate Rounds (3)
By dictionary definition, cheerleading could be considered a sport. The Oxford Dictionary says a sport is defined as: "An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment". However, this definition is so broad, nearly anything can be considered a sport. By this definition, a music competition is a sport. Playing piano for a scholarship would be a sport. War could be a sport. The definition was made to be broad so that they would not leave anyone out. Because of this, non-sports are sometimes included.
Yes. Cheeleading requires physical exertion and skill. Playing a piano concerto requires quite a bit of physical exertion and gobs of skill, but it is never considered "sporty". The show "So You Think You Can Dance" is a great example of a non-sport that checks all the boxes of a dictionary definition of a sport. Physical exertion, skill, competition, entertainment. However, they are just dancing, which most people agree is a performing art.
What performing arts' competitions lack to become a sport is direct competition. All of them require a judge to determine the winner. Judging eliminates a direct competition between the competing groups. It adds subjectivity into who was the better team. There is subjectivity in sports, such as whether someone committed a foul, but that is different. The subjectivity in cheerleading is between the ability of two groups where as the subjectivity in sports is just for a specific event. The entire quality of a squad's performance is determined by someone besides themselves. In sports, whoever scores more wins. In cheer, whoever does "better" wins. Sure there are a few objective(ish) ways to measure a cheer performance, but when it comes down to determining first or second, it gets pretty subjective.
Therefore, since a cheerleading competition fundamentally requires judging to determine the winner, it is not a sport.
Keagen forfeited this round.
As explained by the Merriam Webster Dictionary, the performing arts are: "types of art (such as music, dance, or drama) that are performed for an audience." By this definition, cheerleading is easily a performing art, but more importantly, is "in the true sense of the word" which I will talk about later.
As described in the Oxford Dictionary, to judge something means to "Form an opinion or conclusion about" [that thing]. Or as Merriam Webster puts it, "to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises". The key to each of these definitions is that judging includes an element of subjectivity, i.e., opinion. That means in cheerleading, the outcomes are determined by opinion and not objective fact, meaning a squad's score, and outcome, could change depending on who was judging that day.
To conclude, cheerleading is not a sport because it does not fit in with "the true sense of the word". Yes it is physical. Yes it requires skill. Yes it can be a competition. However, this does make it a true sport. The main problem is that it can only be a competition if judges are used to determine who gets the higher score. You can take the subjectivity out of soccer and there can still be a definite winner. You cannot take the subjectivity out of cheerleading and find a winner. This subjectivity comes from the fact that it is a performing art, and you cannot truly measure art objectively. Cheerleading uses music and dance in order to entertain an audience making it a performing art, not a sport.
-Physical exertion? Yes.
-Teams going up against each other? Yes.
- For Entertainment? Yes.
Being a sport does not by definition require this "direct competition" that you say is your determining factor between a sport and performing arts competitions.
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