Cheer Discrimination in High Schools

I saw a news piece on cheerleading injuries last night on TV. The newscaster mentioned that 29 states’ high school athletic associations recognize cheerleading as a sport. My state is not one of them.

The high school I went to does not recognize cheerleading as a sport. It’s considered a “club.” Cheerleading is listed in the yearbook right between chess club and choir. Frankly, it’s insulting.

I have 3 big problems with this:

#1. Cheerleading is a sport (over half the states agree). Go watch a cheerleading practice and tell me otherwise. When you work hard and leave your sweat and blood on the mat every practice, it’s a complete slap in the face to be told that you aren’t “by definition” an athlete. According to the school, you’re no more an athlete than the kids in chess club. Ouch.

#2. If a state’s high school athletic association doesn’t consider cheerleading to be a sport, then there can’t be any safety procedures or limitations that are uniformly enforced. And until that happens, there will continue to be an absurd number of unnecessary cheerleading injuries.

#3. Because cheerleading isn’t technically a sport, the cheerleading program is treated like a nuisance by the schools. My younger sister is a varsity cheerleader at the high school I went to. She has to fundraise her butt off every season because the school provides absolutely zero funding to the cheerleading program.

We just had astro-turf installed on our football field—it cost over a million dollars and the football players didn’t have to fundraise for a single dollar of it. The cheerleaders had to fundraise for over a year to get enough money to buy themselves new practice mats. The old mats were crappy and unsafe. If a flyer fell on those mats, it would be no better than falling on the hardwood floor. When the school was asked if they would contribute any money, their response was “well, if the mats are unsafe, then don’t do any stunts.” Seriously?!

I mean, the examples here go on and on… If the softball team needs new equipment, the school pays; if the cheerleaders need new uniforms, they have to raise the money. If the volleyball team’s nets are looking a little ragged, the school pays; if the cheerleaders need new poms, they have to come up with the money. Not to sound like a crybaby, but it’s unfair and ridiculous.