Cheerleading may be coming soon as an Olympic sport
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a sport is defined as a physical activity completed for enjoyment and exercise. The Olympic Games are the ultimate sports competition in the world. In ancient Greece, the Olympic Games were a sports competition held once every four years. The modern version of the games began in Athens in 1896, and 13 countries participated in over 40 events, according to a 2010 History Channel article. 1992 was the last year that the Summer and Winter Games were held in the same year. Now, the Olympic Games occur every two years alternating between the two seasonal events. Cheerleading is a sport that is projected to enter the Olympics in the next few years.
It is believed that cheerleading started in 1898 at the University of Minnesota. During sporting events, men from the university would yell chants for crowds to repeat, according to a 2017 USA Today article. In 1920, women got involved in the sport, and cheerleading started to shift from being only chants and cheers to include stunting. Initially, stunts involved members of the squad creating human pyramids to entertain the crowds.
Cheerleading is now more than just people standing on the side of a football field waving pom-poms and screaming “Go Team!” Cheerleading has grown into a sport where members complete synchronized gymnastic moves, choreographed dance moves and more advanced stunts and pyramids. A 2018 article from the BBC about why cheerleading should be an Olympic sport stated: “These athletes train just as hard as gymnasts, for just as many hours as a synchronized swim team, and compete as often as volleyball teams.”
Today, there are four main cheerleading styles: recreational, All Star, scholastic and professional. Recreational cheerleaders are usually children who want to try out the sport, learning the basic cheer skills like stunting and performing routines in a non-competitive environment. Many of these cheerleaders who start at the recreational level move on to another, more rigorous type. All Star cheerleaders are usually club teams and perform roughly a two and a half minute routine that consists of stunts, jumps, dance and pyramid segments choreographed to music. Scholastic cheerleaders represent their school and are usually seen on the sidelines of different school events. Although their main purpose is to support school events, many scholastic teams also participate in competitions, sometimes on the national level. Finally, professional cheerleaders cheer for professional sports teams such as football, basketball, baseball, wrestling and hockey.
In 2016, the IOC voted to grant provisional Olympic status to the sport of cheerleading and to give $25,000 per year in funds for the International Cheer Union, according to a Dec. 2016 article from People magazine. Now, cheerleading is in a waiting period, as it can take up to seven years before the sport is officially recognized by the IOC as an Olympic sport, the article explained. The martial arts sport of Muay Thai is also awaiting the IOC’s approval. With the wait timeframe and pending approval, cheerleading may debut at the Summer 2024 Paris Olympics or the Summer 2028 Los Angeles Olympics. Currently, 35 sports are part of the Olympic Games and if both cheerleading and martial arts are approved, the number will become 37. The approval process of cheerleading has not been hindered due to the delay of the 2020 Olympics, which were scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 9 of 2020 but are now rescheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 of 2021.