Ask me about cheerleading…

Go ahead…I dare ‘ya!

This has nothing to do with school but it’s been bugging me for awhile and this is my blog after all so what better place to air my greivences…right?  Right.  Read on.

There seem to be two main themes when it comes to cheerleading.  1.  it isn’t really a sport and 2.  it’s one of the most dangerous sports out there.  OK, putting aside the issue that there is no way those two statements can both be true (after all how can it be the most dangerous sport when it isn’t one?)  they both show inherent misunderstanding about the sport  itself

I am going to address allstar cheerleading here, mostly because it is what I am most familiar with, but also because it makes my point better.  Hey, it’s still my blog right?  That’s right. 

All star cheer teams exist for one purpose only…to compete.  They do so several times a year.  They are judged, scored and can qualify for regionals, nationals and even worlds.  Their performances consist of dance, tumbling, stunting and jumps.  If you want a run down on what all these things are Ms Pinapple’s Cheer Page  has good explinations and pictures.  You might also want to check out some videos on youtube (try doing a search for cheerleading worlds).  If you are unfamiliar with all star cheerleading you’ll probably be amazed. 

Frankly, these girls work darn hard!  In any given practice we stretch and warm up, do conditioning, practice tumbling skills, jumps and learn/work on our dance as well as putting together stunts and then putting it all together in a way that is entertaining to watch.  No small feat I assure you! 

Besides the competition aspect, all star teams follow safety standards put forth by the United States All Star Federation which include age levels, skill levels and skill progression standards.  The USASF is the all important governing agency of all star cheer.  Not all gyms need to be certified currently (and I actually don’t think that’s a bad thing, but that’s another post)  but they all must follow the age and skill levels in their routines or be disqualified.  So…if I have a level 1 team I cannot perform any skills above the USASF standards for that level or we’ll lose points or be disqulified.  Failing to execute skills correctly will also lose my team points, so I (as a coach) would not try and push my kids beyond their current skill level in competition.  Skill level progress in a way that makes sense so children learn to perfect lower level skills before moving on.  For instance…one legged stunts can only be done below prep (shoulder) level in level 1, at prep level  at level 2 and in extention (above shoulder level) at level 3.   Tumbling skills also progress in the same way.  Level 1 allows only skills as far as cartwheels, round offs, front and back walkovers, level 2 adds single back handsprings and level three adds in series handspings and tucks.  Of course there are ways around the skill prgression aspect of the USASF…a coach can start inexperienced cheerleaders at level 3 for instance.  However, it will likely blow up in their faces. 

So what is the definition of a sport anyway? This is from thefreedictionary.com:

1. a. Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.
b. A particular form of this activity.

2. An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.

Does cheerleading involve physical activity/exertion?  YES

Does cheerleading have a set of rules/customs?  YES

Is cheerleading undertaken competitively?  YES

That is all.

As to the *most dangerous sport* claim I have real difficulty believing that.  How can cheerleading be more dangerous then football?  Lacrosse? Rugby?  Of course there is also the study done by AACCA  which pretty much debunks that claim.  This is not to say that cheerleading should not have safety standards and rules.  It should and that is why the USASF is so important.  Personally I would like to see it become easier (IE-less costly and not requiring travel) to become a USASF certified coach but that’s another post yet again. 

Anyway……there are my thought on the subject.  You milage may vary.

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