So what exactly is a sport? I don’t think anyone would argue that say football, basketball or baseball are sports. But what about cheerleading? And even more importantly, why should anyone care?
Well, it runs out that at least for the Illinois delegation at this year’s annual American Medical Association meeting, these delegates do care. They proposed that cheerleading be designated as a sport. Now, before you start tweeting what an absolute waste of time and energy this proposal was or start looking for some late night comic’s take on this, it might actually matter.
Designating an activity as a sport, encourages more studies. Cheerleading, for example, is not a benign sport. There are risks of head injury, spinal damage and broken bones. In fact, high school cheerleading accounts for about 2/3 of serious injuries to female athletes. Studies might determine that better training, additional equipment (helmets-ok so maybe that wouldn’t work), softer floors could reduce the risks of bad injuries. Cheerleading might be seen as way to lose weight and stay healthy and not just as a way to be join the “in” crowd.
Yet at least one other organization is not on board-yet. The NCAA refused to recognize cheerleading as a competitive sport. Why is this important? Well, for one thing that means that under Title IX a college cannot take away a female sport-say soccer and replace it with cheerleading.
On the other hand, the American Academy of Pediatrics beat the Illinois delegation to the punch: Last October this well respected group recommended that cheerleading be labeled as a sport and that more attention should be paid to injuries from cheerleading.