Cheerleading’s Not a Sport, Is It?

by Eddie Mayrose

In his book, Hate Mail from Cheerleaders, former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly recalls the incendiary comments he made about cheerleaders that sparked the mountain of protest letters he received. “Cheerleading is not a sport!”, wrote Reilly.  “There are ten or twelve sports for girls at every high school.  If you want to play a sport, get in between the lines and play a real sport.  But, wearing a circle skirt and a tight sweater and facing away from the field going, ’2-4-6-8′ is not a sport!”

Now, I must admit, there was a time I’d have screamed, “Amen” to all of that.  I had three boys playing different sports throughout the entire year and a daughter doing the same.  So, when she came to her mom as a fifth grader to ask for help in petitioning me to allow her to join the cheerleading team, I was not happy.  I had an extremely dim view of everything about the activity (certainly not a sport); from the over-the-top parents to the considerable expense.  “What’s wrong with basketball, track and softball?”, I asked.  “Heck, if you’d like, I’ll even teach you to play golf.”  But, she was not to be swayed so, much to my chagrin, I became a “cheerleader parent”. Continue reading »

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