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Cheerleading to be classified as an official sport by new bill

Cami Klein - Staff Writer, Photo courtesy of Google Images

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On Aug. 24, 2015, the Calif. State Senate approved bill AB949 that classifies competitive high school cheerleading as an official sport, ensuring that high school cheerleaders will receive the same recognition and regulations as other high school athletes. When the next governor puts the bill into action, Calif. cheerleaders will have better protection from injury and the California Interscholastic Federation will develop standards of safety
and procedures. In American culture, cheerleaders are often stereotyped as popular girls in short skirts bouncing around at football games. Dozens of movies feature antagonistic cheerleaders as the mean girls. This new bill brings light to the reality that cheerleaders not only provide school spirit, but are athletes as well.

Senator Ricardo Lara, who was once a cheerleader herself, rationalized the bill by recognizing that injuries among cheerleaders account for 60 percent of the total injuries among female athletes on average.

“Cheerleading is dangerous, and difficult stunts challenge my team every day,” said junior cheerleader Eden Stilman. “It is only fair that we have access to the same protection as other athletes.”

When assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, another former cheerleader, created the bill, she aimed to further support cheerleading teams by stating that their schools would have to pay the entry fees for private competitions. This funding replaces hundreds of dollars from fundraising and allows teams more time to practice their skills to prepare for competition season. The bill will also result in improved training and facilities for cheerleaders to which most other sports have access as well.

“If [cheerleading] is considered a sport then [cheer teams] should be treated like [others sports clubs],” said senior Cheer Captain Giulia Borris. “Treating cheer teams differently just because they are “cheerleaders” and not football players or basketball players is wrong. Cheer teams work just as hard as any other sports team.”

Lara summed up her arguments for the bill by stating the ultimate goal to be accomplished.

“This bill is about safety, access, equal opportunity, and most of all respect,” said Lara.
If passed, AB 949 will not only provide cheerleaders with rights available to other high school athletes, but also will alter the modern image of cheerleading as well.

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Cheerleading to be classified as an official sport by new bill