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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

Beyond the Sidelines

(Freepik) Cheerleading is often undermined as a sport, and not taken seriously.
(Freepik) Cheerleading is often undermined as a sport, and not taken seriously.

As someone who has cheered their entire life, seeing how the media has displayed their appreciation towards the sport, or lack thereof, it’s disheartening to see the number of people who don’t consider it an official sport.

And I’m not talking about High School sideline cheer, what I mean is All Star Cheer, which requires a lot more endurance and physical activity than you would think.

More widely known as competitive cheer, there are breakdowns for each division and level as you move up or down in skill. These levels range from level one to six, six being the highest among skills wise. Within these levels are divisions, so for instance Senior Level Six Large All Girl (LAG) or Senior Level Six Medium Coed. This is what separates the competition so not everyone is competing against each other.

All girl teams and their team size are all in separate divisions from small, medium, and large, same goes for coed teams. Lately, there has been a decline within teams, especially in coed since boys in cheer have started to drastically decrease. 

There used to be around 10-12 teams in a singular division but have now started to range from two to six. Teams can always switch their division completely. That’s why each season is always different like this season. Large Coed now only has two official teams competing against each other which are Top Gun All Stars TGLC and Cheer Athletics Cheetahs Same goes for LAG, with now only four official teams being Cheer Extreme Senior Elite, Cheer Athletics Panthers, World Cup All Stars Shooting Stars, and Stingray All Stars Orange.

Though there has been a massive increase in teams within Senior Six Small All Girl (SAG) and Senior Six Medium Coed. What used to have around 4 teams now have upgraded to six to eight teams in total.

What really makes this sport more difficult than it already is, is the routine. Teams spend up to ten months preparing their routine to compete in competitions throughout the season but for senior-level teams their main goal whilst going to all these other competitions like Majors, NCA, UCA, and Cheersport, is Worlds. 

Every cheer athlete strives to become a world champion every season before they age out unless they are on an open team where you can be any age, but unfortunately, most don’t do that nor have that option financially.

Worlds are the most important competition for level six athletes as you spend months on end doing the same routine the entire season to become a world champion or even globe- which is placing top three out of everyone in your division.

The routine you put out is separated into seven required sections for an elite-level appropriate routine, standing tumbling, stunts, baskets, jumps, running tumbling, pyramid, and dance. Not only does the composition of the routine matter but so does the difficulty and technique. 

Worlds uses a different comparative scoresheet than the rest of the competitions do which is why you never really know where you place unless you HIT your routine,

Hitting your routine means having no mistakes, aka zero deductions, and these deductions range from if you fall in any section of the routine if you have a legality, out-of-bounds, and even more technique.

This is why hitting is so important, especially if you have a difficult routine. The day you want to hit most at Worlds is day two, day one is really just to see where you are score-wise but has nothing to do with the outcome of the entire competition.

Then again, some still might not get it, Worlds is like the Superbowl of cheerleading, and why I say this is one of the most difficult sports is because you are lifting and throwing people in the air, and not everyone is staying each season so you have to implement your trust into people you may have just met.

This is why I often have a hard time understanding why it isn’t considered a sport, you are putting in thousands of dollars to possibly become a world champion but also are part of a team where everyone puts in their own weight.

I think it’s time to start putting more respect on cheer athletes as they often have to suffer some of the worst pains like falling on the floor or even getting kicked in the face at full speed. Besides that, cheer is hard, and it’s just as advanced and difficult as any other sport in the world, which is why we as a society should start to recognize the time and effort put into it.

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