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The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

The news site of Ludlow High School

The Cub

Cheerleading should be classified as a sport


The definition of a sport according to Google is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” So why is cheerleading not a sport at Ludlow High School? As the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) says, “Cheerleaders have the strength of football players, the grace of a dancer, and the agility of a gymnast.” If those aren’t qualifications for a sport, then what are?

There are twenty nine states who recognize cheerleading as a sport, Massachusetts is not among them. The topic of whether or not to announce cheerleading as a sport sits in the Massachusetts court house as a bill. By becoming a law in Massachusetts, schools would have to begin to not only fund cheerleading but to adopt policies that will promote equal opportunities for cheerleaders. There will be a long road ahead before the decision to turn the bill into a law is decided.

Tim Brillo, the school’s Athletic Director, has been working at Ludlow High for twenty years. This is his fourth year as our Athletic Director. “Cheerleading is a vital part of our sports program here”, says Brillo. He believes students do not appreciate cheerleaders as much as they should. If you take away cheerleaders, you take away part of Friday night football.

Mr. Brillo says that Ludlow High School sports follow the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) rules. These rules state cheerleading as an activity. If cheerleaders were to become an official sport here they would not be able to get new uniforms and would have to pay the athletic fee. “Cheerleaders are talented and hardworking but still do not get the support as other sports here do”, says Brillo.

MIAA rules states gymnastics as a sport, but isn’t cheerleading relatively close to gymnastics? You hear people say to those who are lacking standards for certain sports, “Why don’t you go try out for cheerleading.” Can you throw a roundoff back handspring full, land it while smiling the whole time? Didn’t think so. Cheerleaders work just as hard as other athletes but don’t get the respect they deserve. If this bill were to become a law, would faculty members and students respect cheerleading more? Cheerleaders are no longer pom-pom, yelling entertainment but an actual sport of their own.

Petitioners, Brian Mannal, John Cutler, Cleon Turner, Aaron Vega, Tom Sannicandro, Timothy Madden, Geoff Diehl, Danielle Gregoire, Diana DiZoglio, and Marjorie Decker are all for this bill to be passed as a law. Brian Mannel is the “creator” of this bill. After witnessing his daughter, Emma’s cheerleading team fighting for practice space, and recognition from the school and other sports, Mannal decided to present this bill in hope of changing the lives of cheerleaders in Massachusetts by getting them the recognition they deserve and the health care they need.

In 2007, nearly 25,000 cheerleaders were in the hospital with injuries. Whether it’s a small sprain or a torn ACL cheerleaders must be cautious and always know what they are doing. If cheerleaders weren’t strong, why would they put themselves at risk of getting seriously injured or even be at risk of paralyzation?

Childrens Hospital Colorado Orthopedics Institute says, “At Children’s Hospital Colorado, we recognize that cheerleading has evolved into an activity requiring more athleticism and high-level skills than ever. Gymnastic moves now frequently replace previous cheerleading styles, and the difficulty of stunts has led to an increase in cheerleading-related injuries.” This orthopedic institute views cheerleading as a sport, and believes people should take it more seriously.

“Cheerleading carries the highest rate of catastrophic injury in sports, accounting for 66 percent of those injuries — defined as ones so severe they may result in permanent disability, long-lasting medical conditions or a shortened life expectancy — in female athletes. That may come as a surprise to many of us who still imagine cheerleaders doing little more than jumping, yelling and waving pompoms,” says The New York Times. “The number of cheerleader-related emergency department visits rose from 4,954 in 1980 to 6,911 in 1986. The number jumped to 16,982 in 1995, then to 22,603 in 2000. By 2002, the number had risen to 24,674, and in 2007 it reached 26,786. That’s a leap of more than 500 percent in 27 years.”

Freshman Felicia Robare is on Ludlow’s Varsity Cheerleading team and loves her first year of cheering. She believes people don’t view cheerleading as a sport because “they are just crowd pleasers.” Cheerleaders are much more than that.

“Cheerleading should be a sport because cheerleaders work just as hard as other teams and put in a lot of effort”, says Robare. Cheerleading, as Felicia says, is a sport and should be recognized as one at Ludlow High School.

Ludlow’s cheerleading team does not get financial help from the school. The cheerleaders and their families fundraise and pay everything themselves which is quite pricy.

The coach of Minnechaug Regional High School cheerleading team, Jeff Stone states; “We are a Varsity sport and do get school financial aid.” If Minnechaug gets school financial aid, shouldn’t Ludlow?

In my opinion, cheerleading should become a sport. Cheerleaders work extremely hard at what they do, and deserve the recognition for it. Cheerleading as a whole, whether it is high school, all-star, or Pop Warner has the athletic ability of most sports combined into one.

All the factors of injury, lack of support and taunting upsets cheerleaders. They’ll wait anxiously for the passing of this bill that could make their sport known and accepted. Cheerleaders are athletes too.

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About the Contributor
Emily Sajdak, Staff Writer
Emily Sajdak is a 14-year-old freshman at Ludlow High School this year. She has been dancing for 12 years and cheerleading for five. She dances daily 10 hours a week and teaches two classes. Emily also recently joined the Ludlow High School Varsity Cheerleading team and loves it! Although she lives in Ludlow her heart belongs in East Falmouth, Massachusetts -- a small town on the Cape where her family owns a beach house. Emily enjoys writing about recent news and controversial topics. In eighth grade Emily wrote a nine-paragraph essay on abortion and earned an A on it. With Emilys straight brown hair, deep brown eyes and quiet personality she can be easy to look over but once you know her she’ll always be by your side. By taking journalism this fun 14-year-old hopes to improve her writing skills and make friends that will last a lifetime.

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