A Sport Without Recognition


Courtesy of Kanani Kekuawela

Here, is our local Kamehameha Kapālama cheerleaders as they perform their routine at their States Championships.

Lisa Hopoi, Staff Reporter

Cheerleading has been around in the United States for hundreds of years. Unlike other further established sports, cheerleading is not recognized by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as an official sport.

When I say cheerleading should be a sport, I am not talking about sideline cheering at football and basketball games; I am talking about competitive cheerleading that is scored and judged. This type of cheerleading consists of three main components- jumping, stunting, and tumbling which all require physical exertion, just like any other sport.

Due to not being declared a “sport” by the NCAA, there is less funding available for cheerleaders who go on to the collegiate level. Stacy Zieger, a writer for “Suburban News Publication” in Ohio, says that scholarships for cheerleaders usually consist of somewhere between $500 and $1000 a year to compensate for their participation on the team, while football players on average get around $17,000 a year. This is mainly because football players can get scholarship money from the NCAA while cheerleading scholarships come directly from the institution, or an outside funder.

Funding for injuries is also not as applicable as it would be if the NCAA were to officially declare cheerleading a sport. Josh Kosman, a writer for the “New York Post” reported that cheerleading has sent 37,344 cheerleaders to the hospital in 2012. Collegiate cheerleading was responsible for 70.2 percent of all female catastrophic sports injuries while high school cheerleading was responsible for 65.2 percent of all high school female catastrophic events. Although cheerleading accounts for the majority of catastrophic sports injuries, they are not funded by the NCAA to financially aid the families who are involved in these gruesome events.

Without being declared a sport by the NCAA, approximately 120,000 female and 3,000 male cheerleaders in the United States miss out on additional funding from their schools, further scholarships, and increased safety measures. Cheerleading should be declared a sport through the NCAA due to the physical exertion it requires, to improve safety precautions, and to increase the financial funding the collegiate cheerleaders could receive.