Cheerleading has been a staple of sporting events for over 140 years. The sport first appeared a few years after Princeton University and Rutgers University met for the first college football game in 1869. In the 1880s, Princeton had an all-male pep club to support his football team.
Over the years, the sport has become what it is today. Women started joining pep clubs when young men went to fight in WWII. This saw the addition of skills such as tumbling passes and acrobatics to the sport, and cheerleaders began to use spiritual sticks and pom poms.
The sport has also seen the rise of competitive cheerleading with organizations such as the National Association of Cheerleaders and the Universal Association of Cheerleaders. While the NCAA does not recognize cheerleading as a sport, more than 250 colleges all three divisional levels of the NCAA offer cheerleading programs.
However, cheerleading is finally starting to experience a new landscape. On July 20, 2021, the International Olympic Committee voted in favor of granting full recognition to the International Cheer Union and cheerleading. The move comes after the sport received provisional recognition from the IOC in 2016, allowing cheerleaders to receive funding and special grants.
The IOC recognition awarded this year allows funding the facilities, training equipment and coaches required to compete in the Olympic Games. This funding that cheerleaders could receive could give millions of cheerleaders around the world the opportunity to compete in the Olympics.
Anna Rodriguez, the captain of the Tulane cheerleading team, started cheerleading in third grade. She said she believed that becoming an Olympic sport might lead people to have more respect for cheerleaders and the risks they take in playing their sport.
She also added that it could have an impact on the Tulane campus. “I hope it earns more respect not only from the sports department but also from the student body,” Rodriguez said. “My goal would be for us to have scholarships. “
While many argue that cheerleading is not a sport, cheerleading requires the same mental and physical strength as other sports. Tulane cheerleaders face the same safety risks as other sports just for attending football and basketball games.
“It doesn’t really matter what they think, because I love what I’m doing and having fun being thrown 20 feet in the air,” said Rodriguez. “People never respect a female-dominated sport like cheering just because that’s the way the world works. “
Teamwork is an integral part of cheerleading and this sport requires more reliable teammates than any other sport. Cheerleaders work together as a unit, not individually, and each cheerleader puts their life and safety in the hands of their teammates.
“It’s like everything. It’s like the most important thing, ”Rodriguez said. “If you’re not sure, if you don’t have chemistry with your bases, folks downstairs, the person they’re throwing might end up dying by landing on your neck or whatever.” have teamwork.
Despite the Paris Olympic Games of 2024 consisting of 50% of women athletes for the first time, the list of sports for the 2024 Olympics has been approved and cheerleading will not be at the Paris Games.
This means that the 2028 games in Los Angeles is the earliest possible start for Olympic cheerleaders, but for cheerleaders to be included in the Olympics, they would have to get a Majority vote of the 102 international members of the IOC.
The 2020 olympic games saw the addition of baseball, softball, karate, skateboarding, rock climbing and surfing. Although the recognition of the IOC is a major milestone, we can only hope that the IOC panel of voters will approve of the appearance of cheerleading at the 2028 Olympics to give the sport the true recognition it deserves.