All-Star Spotlight: Cheerleading is a sport

Every week in “All-Star Spotlight,” members of the ESPNHS All-Star team tackle a hot topic in high school sports. Today, Samantha Dubreuil, a sophomore cheerleader at East Lyme (Conn.), explains why cheerleading is a sport.

Being an all-star cheerleader, nothing is more infuriating to me than being told that it is not a sport. When people think of cheerleading, thoughts of “spirit fingers” and pom-poms often come to mind. However, having been an all-star cheerleader for five years now, I have grown to respect and love the sport. Here’s why.

Before I started cheering, I was big into soccer and softball. The thought of being a cheerleader didn’t appeal to me until my older sister started doing it. I was even one of those individuals who thought cheerleading was all about “spirit fingers.” I was wrong.

In all-star cheerleading, rather than cheering for a basketball or a football team, you learn one 2-minute, 30-second routine and show it off at a selection of different competitions. There are different performance levels, too -- 1 being the lowest and 6 being the best -- a judging model very similar to gymnastics or figure skating.

In order to achieve different skills, each athlete must condition and put in the effort to learn them. Since I play other sports such as lacrosse and track, I know what it’s like to run up and down a field, or do 55-meter hurdles. In my opinion, I can easily and confidently say that all-star cheerleading is the hardest sport out of them all.

Getting thrown into the air and flipping all over the place for that amount of time requires persistence and agility. It has even been proven that it takes 30 muscles to throw a football, and 40 muscles to do a standing tuck.

So the next time someone decides to say cheerleading isn’t a sport, they should give it a try. They will be proven wrong, just like I was.