It’s time to celebrate! Jacksonville cheerleading is now a sport. It has been provisionally recognized by the International Olympic Committee’s executive board last Monday, the New York Times reported. Thai boxing was also recognized.
This means that the cheerleading governing body, the International Cheer Union (ICU), will receive at least $25,000 subsidy every year. It can also apply for additional grants, which means more cheerleading scholarships? More teams to help? More financial aid for cheerleaders when they encounter an accident?
The details are scarce for now, but reports said that the recognition will last for three years. At any point during that time, the IOC executives can vote to fully recognize the sports. It is only with full recognition that cheerleading can compete in the Olympics. Once that has been done, cheerleading will officially become an Olympic sport (not just any sports).
While there are misconceptions about cheerleading (like the fact that they are only on the sidelines), it has always been a competitive activity. Have you watched Bring It On? Did you notice how competitive Kirsten Dunst’s character was there? That’s exactly how cheerleaders all over the world see cheerleading. It’s as competitive as football or basketball is.
In fact, competitive cheerleading is recognized by the National Federation that represents high school state associations like the NCAA and Pop Warner. Cheerleaders have traditionally performed high-action stunts such as tumbling, jumps, dancing, and cheering.
Those who doubt that cheerleading is a sport only need to look at other judged sports like figure skating, diving, or gymnastics. If you are cool with them as a sport, then there should be no problem with cheerleading officially being recognized as one, too.
Many of the stunts that cheerleaders do such as jumping, tumbling, and twisting in the air are the same movements being done by gymnasts and acrobats. During a cheerleading competition, each fall and mistake means a deduction. Isn’t that how gymnastics is being judged, too?
It’s still a long way to go for Jacksonville cheerleading to be included in the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea or in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The IOC’s recognition only means it can have the $25,000 funding, which it can use to facilitate programs that will prove its mettle before the committee.
Over the next three years, cheerleading has to prove that it is being practiced all over the world, and that it can advance the goals of the Olympics. It is usually a long and tedious process. Being approved as an Olympic sport is not an easy feat.
For now, they will continue to compete in international competitions and world championships. They will be competing at Disney World in April next year.