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Rallying for the Right Team- Why Cheer Should be a Sport

As I watched the Eastern Sideline Cheer Team do their sets at our most recent football game, I found myself questioning “why don’t people consider cheerleading a sport?” These girls are not only flying through the air and tumbling down the track, but also smiling their way through it.

The cheerleaders are lifted high into the air by their teammates!

Where others might just see the pom-poms and skirts, I saw the hard work and dedication the team has to their craft. Not only that, but the amount of trust one has to have in order to be on the team. “[Cheerleading] definitely requires a lot of skill and practice and should be considered a sport just like soccer or football,” states Tara Kloostra (22’). Girls are hurdled through the air while flipping, and have to rely on their teammates to catch them so no one gets injured. It requires a tremendous amount of precision – something that only comes with long hours of training and numerous practices.

On top of the gymnastics they must perform, the girls also are responsible for the energy of the football games. Without them, the student section would be unorganized and less spirited. They bring life that is needed for student sections at every game – even when the football team is losing.

The cheer team performs a routine during last Friday’s football game at Thornapple Kellogg High School!

So why isn’t cheer considered a sport? My theory is that many people don’t understand how hard it actually is. Spectators just see the smiling and various chants as a way for women to watch their “favorite players” on the football team up close. But I’ve found it’s much more nuanced than that. Cheerleading requires an unbelievable amount of athleticism and belief in one’s own abilities in order to get it right. So the next time you watch a football team, clap for our cheerleaders too.

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