Cheerleading is something that most people view as a bunch of pretty girls standing around waving their arms and smiling for a picture or two, but there is more that meets the eye when it comes to being a cheerleader.
Being a cheerleader has two sides, there is the sideline part and the competing part, both are two completely different things. Being a sideline cheerleader(in high school, college cheer is totally different) requires a minimal amount of tumbling and stunting and more on memorization and tight, clean motions. Sideline cheerleaders have to put on bright smiles and have spirit even when their team is losing a game or even have a bad season. They cannot look mad or sad, it requires a group of girls, and or boys, to come together and be supportive of the people they are cheering on.
Competitive cheer is a totally different world. It is a huge time commitment and requires a substantial increase in budget compared to sideline cheer. Most competitive cheerleaders spend their weeknights at two-three hour long practices while their weekends are spent traveling to various cities to compete. Competitive cheer, or all-star cheer, is nothing like sideline cheer in other ways too. All-star cheerleaders have to make their hair and makeup look almost perfect. They have to be in great shape in order to make it through a three-minute routine, which does not sound like a lot until you actually do it. In most competitive routines there is a big opener, normally containing a stunt or tumbling, there is a jump sequence, at least two stunting sequences, tumbling section, a pyramid and a dance at the end. All of that is jammed into three minutes of times.
Some people can manage to do both sideline cheer and competitive cheer and some people choose one or the other. Personally, I did both for a long period of time. Both of them were an incredible amount of fun that brought me some of my closest friends and some of my fondest memories. Both of them in my eyes is a sport. No person who has not experienced the workload and stress of cheer can say anything about them, because they just do not know what happens behind closed doors. Any cheerleader will tell you that it can be overwhelming, but the love for the sport makes everything worth it in the end.