Cheer team stands firm on their belief that cheerleading is a sport

By Jesse Hernandez

Cheer Squad—Marching band (back) and the cheer team supports the men’s and women’s basketball team.

The life of a cheerleader is more serious than you think. Valerie Lugo, a cheerleader at ELAC, said cheerleading isn’t considered “sport enough” to be added to the ELAC athletic department.
Valerie Lugo said she wouldn’t know why cheer isn’t considered a sport in the ELAC athletic department.
She said a sport is described as an activity involving physical exertion and skill. Cheer has both of these aspects.
Greg Whiteley directed the football focused docuseries “Last Chance U’’ on Netflix.
Whiteley is now the documentarian of the six-part documentary series “Cheer” on Netflix.
He said he marvels at the tenacity of these athletes.
“They’re the toughest athletes I’ve ever filmed,” Whiteley said in a Wrap interview.
“It’s not even close. And that’s no slight to football players.”
According to The National Collegiate Athletic Association and U.S. federal title IX, cheerleading is not officially recognized as a sport.
Head Coach Eva Zepeda, of the ELAC cheerleading team, has been coaching at ELAC since 2005. Overall Zepeda has 25 years of experience.
Zepeda said the LACCD does not consider cheer a sport because to be considered a sport you need to compete as a team.
Zepeda said in 2005 they were considered part of the athletic department and as athletes in LACCD couple of years later in 2008 cheerleading was one of the departments that got hit hard and the budget was taken away.
Zepeda said cheerleading needs a new budget to help them move forward.
ELAC is one out of the nine LACCD schools that have cheerleading.
Zepeda said the athletic department including cheerleading in the budget would be the next step in helping cheerleaders.
Previously, cheerleaders had to pay out of pocket or do fundraisers to get the funds to afford uniforms.
This year the athletic department was able to help them to get 20 uniforms out to the cheerleaders. Zepeda said it is a slow process, but there is direction now. She said cheerleading is getting much more support now than ever before. The cheer squad is also getting scheduled for school events all through the year.
Lugo said cheerleaders participate in stunting, tumbling and flips. Cheerleading checks off most requirements making it a sport. Cheerleaders are athletic, teams repeatedly lift, throw and catch flying teammates well.
Many of them nurse injuries from their practices.
Concussions, ankle injuries and swollen twisted limbs often occur in cheer.
Cheerleading, like most sports, carries risk for grave injuries.
According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill the number of female cheerleaders with direct catastrophic injuries were second only to football players based on data taken annually from 1982 to 2018.
Cheerleading has had a higher rate of injury over time than 23 of the 24 sports recognized by the NCAA. Natalie Guice Adams, author of “Cheerleading An American Icon,” and the director of the University of Alabama’s Liberal Arts School, who was featured in the Netflix series “Cheer,” in an interview with TIME.
“The courts have continuously ruled that it cannot be counted as a sport under Title IX.”
Lugo said she believes Cheer should be considered a sport in the ELAC athletic department.
She said they practice just as much as any sports team would for games.
They are committed and dedicated to bringing school spirit year round, participating not only in sports events but also in fundraisers, in community outreach and school functions.
Lugo said cheerleading doesn’t have an off-season.
“As cheerleaders, they are more than dedicated and committed to bringing ELAC pride on-and-off campus,” Lugo said.
Cheerleaders are known to get the crowd pumped up, to cheer on their team and to keep that same energy all throughout the game regardless what the outcome may be .
Campus News has reached out to the athletic director and is waiting for comment.

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