Cheerleading as a Sport
By Emily, age 19, Newfoundland
I know many people say that cheerleading is not a sport, but I can tell you that it really is. As a former bottom and spotter, I know that cheerleading is a whole lot of work. We lift and support the tops, who all probably look thin, but they usually have a whole lot of muscle mass.
Along with all of the lifting you do, there's also the dancing that goes with the routines. The perfection of those dances takes hours of practice, sometimes in the late hours of the night and wee hours of the morning. I know that my team used to have two morning practices, one after school practice, and one night practice per week.
Cheerleading also takes a lot of communication between team members. In order to perform any kind of tosses (such as the basket toss) or poses (such as the liberty or scorpion poses), all of the bottoms and spotters have to be supporting most of the tops' weight so that she can balance.
Cheerleading, just like any other sport, is extremely dangerous if team members don't know what they're doing. If the tops are dropped and not caught, they can suffer irreversible consequences. It's not uncommon for girls to wind up with broken limbs or paralyzed from screw-ups during stunts. As a spotter, I've had a top fall on my face, which luckily didn't cause too much damage. I've also seen the same top not having been caught and falling on her own face, which was extremely painful for her. Luckily the mats cushioned her fall.
The professionals might make it look easy, but cheerleading is extremely difficult. It takes work, dedication and a certain amount of strength.