In order to answer this question, one must separate sideline cheerleading and competitive cheerleading. These are two completely different styles of cheer and their differences make this answer a complicated one. In my opinion, and what seemed to be the collective opinion of the class debate, is that competitive cheer most definitely is a sport but the same cannot be said for sideline cheer and there are many factors that support this thought.
According to Coach John Howard, a contributor to cheerleadingzone.com, competitive cheer is most certainly a sport. This thought is supported by the competitive aspect and the governing body of rules that come with competitive cheer. Teams are split by talent levels and the size of their team is limited. They perform 2 minute 30 second routines that combine jumping, tumbling, jumping, and dancing and gain tally marks in regards to their performance. At the end of the competition a winner is declared. The physical aspects combined with the competitiveness 100% make competitive cheer a sport, no doubt in my mind.
Sideline cheer, on the other hand, cannot be considered a sport because the competition and rules do not exist like they do in competitive. Sideline cheer is used to pump up the crowd at another sporting event, according to Samantha Snow. Snow also says that sideline cheerleaders main focus is keeping spirits high at various events rather than competing against other cheer teams. They are also reliant on other activities in order to be active. They only perform when other sports are going on. Despite the fact that sideline cheer is not a sport, in my opinion, these people are still athletes. They do a lot of physical things that I cannot even imagine doing and their title of athlete should stay put. You can still be an athlete without competing.
Howard, J. (2015). Competitive cheerleading vs. school cheerleading. Retreived from http://cheerleadingzone.com/competitive-cheerleading-vs-school-cheerleading/.
Snow, S. (2012). Sideline vs. competitive: cheerleaders discuss the difference. Retrieved from https://glhsreflection.org/2012/01/23/sideline-vs-competitive-cheerleaders-discuss-the-difference/.