KIS Opinion Sports

Why Cheer?

Is cheer a sport? Tune in to learn more about cheer from our own cheerleaders.

Is cheer a sport? This question sparks controversy wherever it is brought up. For decades, cheerleading has been sexualized by countless American movies and television shows (prominently Bring It On [2000]), leading to the stereotyping of cheerleaders that is still prevalent in Western media. Although it has recently been garnering attention worldwide, cheer is still relatively new to the handful of countries that actively participate in it, and in the countries where interest in cheerleading has been increasing, many disregard the activity.

Regardless of which side you are on in this debate, however, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) granted provisional recognition to the International Cheer Union (ICU) last December, a necessary first step to cheer becoming an Olympic sport. Over the next three years, the ICU will have the right to petition to become a fully recognized support, which would then allow them to petition to be included in the Olympics.

Our school is not exempt from the debate over the authenticity of cheer as a sport. During our home games, many students look at the cheerleaders chanting on the sidelines of the basketball court and shake their heads. They claim that girls cheer just to look pretty in front of the basketball team, while others say that cheerleaders shouldn’t be given varsity letters or sports bags. With our teams competing at KAIAC just last weekend, I decided to hear from some of our own cheerleaders about this topic.

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PC: Kate Lee (’17)

Why do you cheer?

JV Cheerleader – Jihee Choi (‘20)

I cheer because it’s really a thrilling experience. I like working with my supportive teammates, and I love when we accomplish things together as a team.

JV Cheerleader – Sophia Ahn (‘20)

I cheer because I love being with my team. Whether is practicing the choreography or the stunts, we always have fun together. On top of all that, the sense of accomplishment we get when we put up a new stunt or hit the correct dance motions altogether is pretty amazing.

JV Cheerleader – Joshua Seo (‘19)

I cheer because I’ve always wanted to cheer and know what it’s like to be a male cheerleader.

JV Cheer Captain – Florence Lee (‘19)

I never thought I would love cheerleading this much before I started this season. Cheerleading has now become an essential part of my life and my personality.

JV Cheer Captain – Sooji Yang (‘18)

I cheer to share my energy and spirit with other people. It makes my day whenever I see people, especially little kids, brighten up when watching my team cheer!

Varsity Cheerleader – Sara Kim (‘18)

Cheer isn’t only a stress reliever for me, but a sanctuary. I feel confident and at home when I play the sport with people that I love – isn’t that the case for every athlete? I can’t imagine myself as a non-cheerleader.

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PC: Kate Lee (’17)

What do you have to say to those who say that cheer isn’t a sport?

JV Cheerleader – Jihee Choi (‘20)

I want them to try and learn a dance routine, memorize a cheer, hit a toe touch, and hold someone in the air while smiling. It frustrates me when people say that cheer isn’t a sport, but in the end, what matters most is that it is a sport to me.

JV Cheerleader – Sophia Ahn (‘20)

Many people say that cheer isn’t a sport because it doesn’t look as challenging other sports, but I want to tell them that cheer is a different kind of “hard.” Instead of having to run and sweat for a long period of time, cheerleaders have to give everything they have in two minutes and thirty seconds of fast dance moves, stunts, and tumbling while shouting their loudest voice and smiling to hide their panting and exhaustion.

JV Cheerleader – Joshua Seo (‘19)

I want to tell them that they don’t even know how much blood, sweat, and tears we spill to get our stunts to work and to keep our flyers up.

JV Cheer Captain – Florence Lee (‘19)

Just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean it’s not a sport.

JV Cheer Captain – Sooji Yang (‘18)

I really want to say that the common perception of “cheer isn’t a sport” is wrong. To be honest, before I started cheer this year, I was one of those people who didn’t consider cheerleading a sport. However, being involved in the cheer team totally changed my mind. I realized how cheer requires tremendous strength and stamina as well as dance skills, tumbling, and flexibility. I want to tell people that unless they’ve tried cheer, they are not in the position to say that cheer is not a sport.

Varsity Cheerleader – Sara Kim (‘18)

I dare you to throw me in the air and say it’s easy. Because it’s not.

How was your experience being a captain this year?

JV Cheer Captain – Florence Lee (‘19)

Making the KAIAC routine was the hardest part; even after several all-nighters and endless exchanges of emails with the coach, the routine never seemed good enough. Despite all the pressure as a captain, seeing the team work hard to memorize and perfect the routine made everything worth it. I am thankful to have had team members who easily accepted feedbacks and changes in our routine during our practices. They were all very dedicated to the success of the team.

JV Cheer Captain – Sooji Yang (‘18)

My experience of being a captain this year was actually really tough. Regarding the fact that it was my first time in cheer, the responsibility I had as a captain gave me a lot of pressure. However, Florence, who was my partner as another captain, helped me push through the season with all the tasks we had to fulfill as captains! I really want to thank her for that.

How would you describe this season?

JV Cheerleader – Jihee Choi (‘20)

I think that even though it was my first season, I couldn’t have asked for a better one.

JV Cheerleader – Sophia Ahn (‘20)

I think that this season was amazing for the JV cheerleaders. Every single person in our team was new to cheerleading, yet we were able to learn quickly, grow significantly, and end the season with results to be proud of.

JV Cheerleader – Joshua Seo (‘19)

This season was great! I’m definitely going to try out next year too.

JV Cheer Captain – Florence Lee (‘19)

The start was pretty hard. It was the first season for everybody, including our coach. We didn’t have enough space to practice in the Fitness Center with varsity, so we had to practice in the squash courts with no mirrors. We had to roll and unroll mats and then carry those heavy mats up stairs at the start and end of every practice. Although we might not have had the highest level of stunts and jumps compared to other teams, our sharp motions and spirit allowed us to place second at KAIAC. I know it’s really cheesy to say that I had the best team members I could ever have this year, but I do truly feel like I will never be able to work with a team as energetic and spirited as this year’s JV.

JV Cheer Captain – Sooji Yang (‘18)

I would like to say that this season was unforgettable. The energy and teamwork among our team members grew every practice, and I could feel that by the end of the season, our team was just like a family! I was extremely proud that our team placed second in KAIAC, regarding the fact that it was everyone’s first year in cheer.

Varsity Cheerleader – Sara Kim (‘18)

This season was a bit tough for me with my very first serious injury. Having to sit out made me frustrated and upset at the fact that I couldn’t do anything. Nonetheless, I tried to fulfill my job as a cheerleader for my cheerleaders. It was a great season because we were together.

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PC: Kate Lee (’17)

To those who claim that cheer isn’t a sport: you’re right. Cheer is more than just a sport. Yes, cheer does support athletic teams and schools, but it also involves athletic components. Cheer is actually much more physically demanding than what spectators may think. Imagine stunting, tumbling, dancing, and hitting jumps all with precision and a big smile on your face. Even with no protective gear, cheerleaders are still able to show off their exemplary flexibility, tumbling, coordination, strength, balance, and endurance in just two minutes and thirty seconds. So, cheerleaders, next time somebody disregards our sport, say to them, “Do you want to try?”

– Kristin Kim (’20)

Featured Image: Kate Lee (’17)

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