Salisbury University cheerleaders practicing their moves
BY ALANNA LAWSON
The controversy about whether cheerleading is a sport has been a heavily debated topic for decades, and now after over 110 years it has made it way to the campus of Salisbury University.
According to Title IX, a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, any activity can be actually considered a sport if it upholds specific criteria. This includes practices, coaches, competitions, a stable season and a governing organization. Much of this is true for cheerleading, with the exception of its main goal being to support other sports team and not compete in championship opportunities.
Even displayed on the National Collegiate Athletic Association Gender-Equity Report released from 2004-2010, cheerleading was under the subcategory “Spirit Groups,” accompanying bands, dance teams and mascots.
Cheerleading on SU’s campus is considered a sport in some respects. It is listed on the Campus Recreation Sports Clubs list, and as far as they are concerned, “A sport club may be oriented toward any or all of the following: competition, teaching, recreation or socialization.”
However, also listed on their list are volleyball as well as rugby, and most people consider these intense activities sports.
Maya Jennings, a senior with seven years of experience with cheerleading, said the activity is often misunderstood to many individuals on the outside looking in.
“A sport is more than a team competing against another team to win. It is also working with others, the physical activity and risk of injuries taken with each practice and performance,” Jennings said.
Senior teammate McKensey Hoover, who has six years of experience, said there is a significant amount of preparation that goes into a cheerleader’s routine.
“At practice we tumble, jump, stunt and go over our routine multiple times,” Hoover said. “We do this for both games and competitions. Tumbling, stunt bases, backs and flyers are the most prone to injuries on a cheerleading team, and that’s just about everyone on the team.”
Another cheerleader, Darian Booz, a freshman with nine years under her belt, said many don’t realize that the cheerleaders at schools are not the only ones who exist. All-star teams are also official cheerleaders. Cheerleaders must try out, and continue to perform up to their standards on a constant basis. They are eligible to be cut at any time.
And even though the average person only sees and know cheerleaders for cheering the “real” sports teams on, they are more dynamic than that. Jennings, Booz and Hoover all admit that their gameface is much different from their “competition” face.
They agreed that the more sports like aspect of cheering is seen and displayed at competitions, and said they can understand peoples reasoning for saying cheering isn’t a sport. But sitting with a higher level of experience, Coach Vicky Liwush spoke with a firm opinion.
“For one, cheerleading is recorded to have the highest injury reports filed,” Liwush said, who has over 12 year of cheering experience to back up her insight on this topic.
She wants it to be known that becoming and maintaining a cheerleader’s status is beyond any explanation. Without a doubt Coach Liwush passionately feels cheerleading is a sport.
On the contrary, not everyone agrees in favor of declaring cheerleading as a sport. Keiarea Winston, a sophomore with three years of experience, said cheerleading does not stand on par with other athletics.
“It’s a hobby,” Winston explained. “If you can’t go pro then I feel like it’s something done for more enjoyment. Rather than being solely for competitiveness or a way to employment like other well-known real sports, it is mostly done for that person’s own pleasure.”
Some athletes from other SU sports teams said cheerleading deserves to be called one, even though it isn’t as intense.
“Sure cheerleading is a sport,” said Kelvin White, a freshman football player. “It’s dangerous as far as the stunts and flips, but it’s not as physical and doesn’t take as much skills compared to other highly know athletic sports such as football or basketball. But this doesn’t mean it isn’t a sport”
Moreover, White said he believes their competitions as well as performances are more geared towards being a club sport that can be open to anyone who tries, but a sport nevertheless. Winston, on the other hand, agrees with White that it’s dangerous and requires skill but considering it a sport would be “a bit much.”
Although this debate has closely been examined and whether ones opinion is swayed in one direction or the other, cheerleaders are enthusiastically showing spirit on the sidelines and during intense competitions. SU’s cheerleaders in particular can always be spotted during a football or basketball game. Fans can expect to support them from the crowd during a game. They will be competing in their biggest competition yet at Frostburg this February.