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Cheerleading is a Sport

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/29/2016 Category: Sports
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,148 times Debate No: 85749
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (2)




Cheerleading is a sport. Tell me any reason you think it isn't and I will prove you wrong.


I accept this debate. Thank you for offering to host it.

First, I have mad respect for all of the athleticism of cheerleaders. You’re asked to be part dance line and part gymnast. It takes great athleticism, strength flexibility, many years of training, and there are competitions.

But nobody cares what I think. I have an opinion, but it means nothing. Since I’m not involved in cheerleading in any way, I could be considered both “impartial” and “uninformed.”

You are involved in Cheerleading. So that makes your opinion “informed” but also “Biased”. And since we are in a debate and not an opinion poll, nobody should care what you think either.

So I set about finding a source that is both “informed” and “unbiased”. Maybe a governing body that sets policy and rules for Cheerleading.

I found the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (

They receive this question frequently. There are actual legal, insurance, Title IX at the college level, and funding distinctions between management of “sports” and “activities” in schools and leagues. Therefore, correct classification of Cheerleading has a much greater impact than bragging rights among participants.

The official position of the AACCA is that Cheerleading is an “Athletic Activity” and the participants are “Student Athletes”. [1]

The AACCA states that Cheerleading fails to meet the qualifications of a sport:
"Cheerleading as a Sport

Cheerleading in its current format, does not meet the second criteria .... The primary purpose is not competition, but that of raising school unity through leading the crowd at athletic functions."

The AACCA classifies Cheerleading as an “Athletic Activity”
"The Best Category for Cheerleading

It is the position of TheAmerican Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators that cheerleading is in a new, developing category called "athletic activity". This group can also include dance and drill teams and marching bands, all of which share the special balance between school spirit functions and athletic competitions.”


If your own governing body doesn’t support your premise, I’m afraid I cannot either.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting my argument. Also, I appreciate that you recognized that cheerleading's athleticism and skill requirement. I would like to start off responding to the information you provided by describing the types of cheerleading.

recreational- usually has equal purpose of competition against other teams and cheering for football- non profit or profit organizations

high/middle school cheer:
non competitive- some schools have cheerleading teams that only cheer for other sports such as basketball and football
competitive- Some schools have a specific team that only competes in competitions, and do no "cheering" for other sports
mixed- many schools have cheer teams that do both cheers for football and competition

college- mix of competition and cheerleading for other sports.

pro-dances only for NFL teams

all star/prep- cheerleading gyms (profit or non-profit) that only go to many competitions to face off against other teams, and most teams have a main goal to get to "The Cheerleading Worlds" or "The Cheerleading Summit", large competitions with the best of the best teams, which you need to win a bid, or invitation in order to go.

Each type that does compete does this at their own types of competitions, not against each other. (highschools separate, allstar separate, college separate, and recreational.

The AACA does make a good point with the argument that cheerleading's primary purpose is not competition, making it not a sport. However, this statement is not true for all types of sports. While, it would be tricky for dealing with categories where, in one division at a competition you may have some teams that also cheer for sports teams and teams that do not, one thing that I know to be true is that all star cheerleading is in the "current format" that the primary purpose is to compete.

Also, who is to say that the primary purpose of teams that compete and raise spirit, do not have the primary purpose of competing and a secondary purpose of cheerleading for other sports' teams. Because, competitions do seem to be the main focus for those cheerleading teams who are competitive.

In conclusion, all star cheerleading is definitely competitive, and fit the second element of a sport, as defined by the Womens' Sport Foundation, while the recreational, high school and college remain controversial, and a subject of which I do not have a clear opinion, or enough information of. I do not wish to validate or deny pro cheerleading as a sport, because that is a different thing all over. For now, I would like to focus more on all star cheerleading, defined as "Competitive cheerleading is when cheer squads compete against each other at a competition. At a typical cheerleading competition, teams perform a 2 and a half minute routine with music that includes stunts, jumps, tumbling." by Varsity, a cheerleading company.


Thank you for continuing this debate.

I acknowledge the point that cheerleaders are both athletic and participate in organized competitions. In 2013, the number of participants (aged six years and older) in cheerleading amounted to approximately 3.24 million. [1] Cheerleading is caught in this hybrid style of Gymnastics (Olympic sport - primary purpose is competition) and Dance (Primary purpose is entertainment and performance art).

The very nature of a cheerleader is to be vocal, supportive, and energetic towards a cause. That a wide range of cheerleaders vocally support reclassifying their activity as a sport does not surprise me.

Cheerleading Organizations Disagree with the AMA
I only found one case of an independent group attempting to reclassify the activity: the American Medical Association. However, the AMA is not motivated by defining competitions. The AMA’s primary objective is to ensure the safety of the participants.
(The AMA) supports better safety measures including avoiding inappropriate surfaces when performing flips and other stunts and following rules for properly performing stunts.[2]

However, proper equipment, safety, and medical care or physical therapy for injuries is independent of competition. Construction workers are given the same rights. Declaring cheerleading a sport is a misguided rationale for diverting funds to adequate safety measures.

This reclassification was not met with support by the aforementioned and the President of USA Cheer, Bill Seely who said,

"We believe the best approach is not relabeling cheerleading but ensuring all athletes and coaches are trained and certified and all programs adhere to safety rules," Seely said. "Relabeling cheerleading will change its fundamental nature to a purely competitive sport. We're disappointed the AMA made this recommendation without consulting us or reviewing our safety initiatives, but we hope to work with them toward a shared goal of cheerleader safety.” [3]

The Can of Worms
One significant problem with reclassifying and athletic activity as a “sport” because it meets the secondary (not primary) qualification of competition + athletic activity, is the number of activities that would now fall into that category.
  • Drumlines: Primary purpose is music in support for high school or college team spirit. Secondary purpose is competition to improve skill and enjoyment through participation:
Impressive Competition, but not a sport.
  • Dance Competitions: Primary purpose is entertainment and artistic expression through physical moment and choreography. Secondary purpose is competition.

Cheer-style athleticism, competitive venues, even nationally-televised shows like SYTYCD, Dancing with the Stars, and America’s Best Dance Crew. Fun, entertaining, impressive athletic feats, but it’s still not a sport.
  • Compare those to cheerleading, visually.
    • The University of Alabama took the National Dance Championship.

    • A teen group performs in a “Cheer & Dance Extreme” competition.

There is virtually no difference between Cheerleading competitions and Dance or Drumline competitions. The format is identical between events. Show me your routine, judges subjectively rate them. The performances are impressive. But none of those have the look or feel of a sport.

What’s Next?
Next thing you know, someone will claim Hot Dog (competitive) Eating is a sport (primary purpose is stuffing pieholes) because it takes training, extreme physical performance, and there are competitions.

Seeking Validation
I’m sorry you feel the need to validate your performance to football players who denigrate the activity. This is what they face every time they step on the field.

The correct response to a football player who says “Cheerleading is not a sport” should not be to say “we are a sport, too.”

In pretty much all cases of this debate, the proponent seems to be seeking validation for their effort. The correct response should be, “I’m busting my (athletically toned) butt to support your team and create a better game-day experience for the fans. I compete against other squads in competitions so that I can perfect my craft. You need to be thanking me and not putting me down.

Debate Round No. 2


The reason most people think cheerleading is not a sport, is because they do not know enough about it, and therefore have many misconceptions about the topic. A lot of people claim that cheerleading is not a sport because, they think it is not competitive. Also, they sometimes think that cheerleading is not athletic enough to be considered a sport. Another thing people believe makes cheerleading not a sport, is because of the way it is judged. All of these claims are incorrect, and made through a lack of knowledge on cheerleading.
Despite what many people think Allstar cheerleading is about, it is a very competitive sport. There are many competitions, some created by Varsity. They say "Varsity created the first high level cheerleading competition in 1980, the National High School Cheerleading Championship, to reward cheerleaders for their work on the sidelines and to create a venue in which they could be recognized for" These high level cheerleading competitions are still growing, becoming more competitive, fitting the competitive section of the definition of a sport. The summit cheerleading competition is a very competitive event, televised on ESPN3 annually. Varsity announces that they "are awarding 107 paid bids and 355 at-large bids at 27 of our premier events". There are lots of competitions to get bids with over 1,000 teams at many of these competitions, and only 5-10 bids that are given out. So, cheerleading is very competitive even though some people think that it is what makes cheerleading not a sport. But, they are wrong about many elements of cheerleading.
Some people believe that all cheerleading is not a sport because it lacks physical challenge. However, allstar cheerleading requires a lot of physical effort. Aspects like stunts can be especially challenging. For example cheerleaders do a stunt called baskets, in which they use their legs and arms to propel a flyer upwards in a way for her to be able to complete a variation of tricks from splits, twists, and flips. This is very difficult to do, and takes a lot of muscles and hard work. That is not the only difficult aspect of cheerleading, though. Tumbling, or "flipping" takes many muscles that are usually unused; this section of cheerleading is similar to floor gymnastics which is an Olympic Sport. Because gymnastics is an Olympic Sport, that supports the fact that it is a difficult and intense sports, as all sports in the competition should be. A cheerleading routine is very difficult, and there are some challenging things that every single one has in common. That is the combination of screaming counts, smiling, and doing the other important and difficult parts of a fast paced routine all in 2 minutes and 30 seconds. This is very exhausting and hard to do, and is similar to a cardio workout that makes many people feel short of breath. Most people do not know these things about cheerleading, which leads to many misconceptions.
The term "Judge" can make for a very good argument against cheerleading being a sport. However, according to the Women"s Sports Foundation, Element III of a sport is "Governed by the rules which explicitly define the time, space and purpose of the contest and the conditions under which a winner is declared". Cheerleading has rules for time (2 minutes and 30 seconds for each team to compete), space (a 54" x 42" mat), Purpose (to get first place, or a bid*), and the conditions under which the winner is declared, is whoever gets the highest score. The Element IV of a sport is "Acknowledged primary purpose of the competition is a comparison of the relative skills of the participants.". However some think that because there is the term judge, that more bias goes into this, however there is a strict point system that is used to judge the "relative skills of the participants". So, while judging is a controversial term in sports, cheerleading still fits the definition and description of a sport.
Allstar cheerleading is an amazing and difficult sport, that deserves the recognition of being classified as one. Allstar cheerleading is very competitive, as a sport is supposed to be. Also, cheerleading requires a great amount of skill and physical exertion. An overused argument against cheerleading as a sport, is that the judging and scoring does not fit the requirements to be a sport. However, it does according to the Women"s Sports Foundation. Overall, allstar cheerleading should be classified as a sport, without a doubt.


It’s weird. It’s almost like you wrote that argument without reading anything I wrote.

I’m not sure who you are debating. Hey, young lady, “eyes up here”.

I Can't Rebut a Rebuttal of an Argument I Didn't Make.

Paragraph 1: I agreed that there are competitions, it requires athleticism, and know how it is judged. I have a kid that dances competitively. I’ve been to many, many competitions. Many have included cheer and acrobatic categories. I know how they work.

Paragraph 2: I acknowledged cheerleading competitions. I’m well aware of them. I equated them to dance competitions in format and judging. That doesn’t make dance a sport. It’s still an art.

Paragraph 3: I already conceded the physical aspect, even pointing out the AMA’s call for better protection and care for the athletes participating.

Paragraph 4: I have no issue, nor did I ever state an issue, with judging. Judging is critical in many sports like figure skating, gymnastics, and diving.

Did you copy your argument from a paper you wrote previously?

All-Star Cheerleading

I went to the page and read the opening.

"All star cheerleading is different than school cheerleading in more ways than one…”[1]

I googled another one, and found World Cup All Star Cheerleading. [2]

"All Star cheerleading is an athletic activity that combines elements of gymnastic tumbling, dance, acrobatics and traditional cheerleading skills such as jumps and arm motions."

"All Star teams are purely competitive and do not perform any traditional team support or crowd leading duties for sports teams or schools."

Here’s what I conclude from visiting multiple sites. They all make a distinct effort directly up front, on their home page, to differentiate themselves from traditional cheerleading. They each go out of their way to say, “We don’t cheer.” and “We are different.” “We are a combination of many, many disciplines.”

It's no longer traditional cheerleading. It's something else.

I’ve drawn the parallel that dance competitions are a subset of a much broader genre of dance, which include ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, numerous street styles, swing, flamenco, hundreds of cultral applications, salsa, rhumba, and even yada yada yada. Competitive characteristics of one small subset of the genre do not make the entire genre of dance into a sport. Competitive dance is an offshoot from traditional dance, which is an art.

You are asserting that Cheer competitions are a subset of a much broader genre of Cheerleading. You are asserting that the application of the “sport” label applies to the competitive “All-Star” category and therefore the “sport” label applies to the entire genre of cheerleading, which the governing bodies define as an "athletic activity".

Even if you could convincingly describe the All-Star subset as a sport, you cannot apply the label to the entire activity category. You’ve changed the purpose therefore you’ve changed the activity. Your argument should have started with “All-Star Cheerleading, a specific application of cheerleading skills, is a sport.” It might have been more effective.

National Yoga League

Let me provide a hypothetical parallel. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I love Yoga. Yoga is awesome. It’s physical. It takes strength and flexibility. It takes years to master. It’s really hard. Look at me, I can put my feet behind my head. Football players can’t do that. I’m an athlete. But hey, Yoga is not a sport. It’s primary goal is health and wellness. And everyone agrees. Nobody ever says “Yoga is a sport"

Now, I love Yoga sooooo much that I got a bunch of my Yoga friends together from my Yoga class, and I made a Yoga league. We found a Yoga master to rate our yoga poses. He gave us points and we tallied scores. We formed teams and did these insane Yoga formations like some freaky act in a Cirque du Soleil show. We even put them to music and it became a wildly popular with yoga enthusiasts. A few people paid some of the best Yoga athletes and we made the insanely exciting National Yoga League.

What I’ve created is some new event with characteristics of Yoga, but in reality, it is no longer considered traditional Yoga. It’s a sub-genre that acts like a sport. It’s like an abomination of Yoga principles for the sake of providing a new experience for people tired of just listening to sitar music. ()

However, I would lose every debate I ever tried that said “Yoga was a sport."

But I would include attractive people on the side of the mats yelling, "Gimmie a 'Y'!" "Gimmie an 'O'!" ...



Debate Round No. 3


anyapavlosky forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by U.n 2 years ago
"someone will claim Hot Dog (competitive) Eating is a sport (primary purpose is stuffing pieholes) because it takes training, extreme physical performance, and there are competitions"

Blasphemy. They air those Nathan's contests on ESPN.

Megatoad Stonie > Joey Chestnut.
Posted by anyapavlosky 2 years ago
jerry947 what you did to find that information is called cherry picking information so... yeah that is not cheerleading and you did not put your source, how do I know that you did not just make that up because you obviously do not understand cheerleading.
Posted by Jerry947 2 years ago
An online dictionary defines cheerleading as "a person who is a member of a group (typically a group of young women) who shout out special songs or chants to encourage the team."

How could anyone possibly call that a sport?
Posted by Zebracakes 2 years ago
I was going to debate this, but I think Cheerleading is a sport. Many people don't think so, but it is. Also, I am a cheerleader.

This will go well for Pro...
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by U.n 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: I found it interesting that Pro cited the AACCA source in the 3rd argument, especially considering it links to essentially the same article that Con used in his 1st, an article which ultimately concludes that cheerleading is an "athletic activity" rather than a "sport". Also, the Women's Sports Foundation link just dropped me off on a homepage. Just found that odd enough to be worth noting. Couple that against Con bringing multiple additional sources >>>> source vote to Con. Also, awarding conduct point to Con due to Pro's 4th round forfeited turn.
Vote Placed by zman8881 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Many of Pro's arguments were just opinions, whereas Con used actual sources. Both Pro and Con were just fine with spelling and grammar and conduct. As for more convincing arguments, the most convincing arguments are the one's that can be backed up with proof. Therefore, Con made the more convincing arguments.