I read with amusement Donnie Fetter's June 30 column regarding Justin Williams' June 27 column on the status of cheerleading. At least Williams got it right.
Fetter freely states that cheerleaders are "absolutely" athletes. Logic follows that athletes participate in some type of sport. That's kind of the point of being an athlete. I checked three dictionaries - they all said the same thing. A sport is defined as "an organized athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature." There is no distinction about how the winner is chosen.
Competition cheerleading has all the elements of a sport. Fetter's problem seems to be that if judges are involved in determining the outcome of an athletic event, then that activity is not a sport. I contend that "competition" and "sport" are not mutually exclusive. You can, and usually do, have both. Most sports on TV have the competitive element. That's why we watch them.
It might be good for sports purists like Fetter to educate themselves a bit more on the requirements, training and experience that are mandated for competition cheer judges before throwing out the tired old "subjective criteria" argument.
Although baseball (which I will assume Fetter believes is a sport) is decided by runs scored, those runs are based on numerous "subjective" judgment calls: ball or strike? fair or foul? out or safe? Competition cheer teams are also judged on each element of their performance by multiple judges. There are certain criteria that must be met to get the maximum number of points, and those criteria are not subjective at all. Just because the outcome of an athletic activity is determined differently than what Fetter can understand does not make it less of a sport.
There are hundreds of extremely talented and dedicated cheer athletes and coaches in the area who train all year to reach the pinnacle of their sport. Competition cheerleaders work just as hard as any football player, swimmer, wrestler or track athlete be the best they can be - not only for their gyms, but for their schools, too. For Fetter to minimize their sport as something akin to American Idol or a beauty pageant is insulting.
I suggest Fetter leave the competition cheerleaders alone and go pick on a "real" sport - like fishing.
(Debbie Linton is past president of the Haydens Twisters Booster Club.)
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