Cheerleading in the Olympics: are we ready?

Senior Editor: Ashlyn Richardson

It seems more and more common to see headlines flash across your screen that you can only hope Ashton Kutcher and the Punk’d crew are behind. This is how most felt when they saw that cheerleading could possibly  become an Olympic sport. While it has yet to be deemed a legitimate Olympic sport, the cheerleaders are close. According to Health.com, “The International Olympic Committee’s executive board voted to officially recognize cheerleading as a sport—but there’s a catch. The official recognition doesn’t mean that cheerleading will become a sport at the Olympics, but rather that cheerleading’s governing body (the International Cheer Union) will be able to receive more funding to better support its athletes.This also means that the cheerleading governing board can petition to have cheerleading become an official Olympic sport in the future, so all hope isn’t lost on that front.” This movement to approve cheerleading as an Olympic sport has many supporters, like Matthew Rottenstein, a senior at Woodstock High School, who said, “I feel like women deserve to have as many events in the Olympics as they want.” Although he may be too scared of my feminist wrath to voice his true opinion, that is how many feel. A large portion of individuals feel like not enough female-focused sports are available to watch during the Olympics. Thus, thanks to people like Rottenstein, the push to induct cheerleading as an Olympic sport has been fairly successful.

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Cheerleaders doing stunts (courtesy of creativecommons.org)

But one must keep in mind that while competitive cheerleading can no longer be spat upon by the skeptics as an illegitimate sport, they’ve yet to reach official Olympic status. The process to become an official sport that competes at the Olympics is one that requires a good bit of money, time, and effort from the international officials of the cheer world. Women’s Health states that to take cheerleading to such a status, the International Olympic Committee  would have to issue “…$25,000 in funding to the international governing bodies of these sports—in the case of cheerleading, the International Cheer Union—for three years. During that time, the IOC can then vote to officially recognize these sports, at which point they can petition to be included in the Games…”

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Cheer competition (courtesy of creativecommons.org)

The push to recognize sports like cheerleading comes from a desire to attract younger people to the Olympic games. The IOC feels as if their biggest demographic of non-watchers will be drawn to invest their time into watching the Games if sports that appeal to teens are broadcasted.  Even though the official processes are in the works to make this happen, many teens have conflicting views over this. Makayla Powell, a senior at Woodstock High School said, “Honestly, I could not care less about cheerleading being in the Olympics. As a grill enthusiast, I’m not going to waste time watching cheerleading when I could spend it grilling.” Although odd, Powell has a point. Many teens would rather spend their time doing, usually non-grilled related, activities rather than watch the Olympics. Fortunately, teens like former cheerleader Sidney Sweeney think that, “Incorporating cheerleading into the Olympics would mean so much to the cheer world, I would definitely watch it.”

So, is making cheerleading an Olympic sport really worth all the effort? Most seem to think so. It provides an opportunity for a female-centered sport to finally be taken seriously after decades of mockery. The IOC may not be able to get more teens to watch the Olympics with this strategy, but it is certainly worth trying since it would be such a grand step for women.

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