For years, cheerleaders have been battling their local and state governments to recognize cheerleading as a sport. The victories have taken awhile, but are steadily growing, this time in a new state.

Competitive cheerleading is about to be declared an official sport in the state of New York. For years, cheerleaders in the state have been pushing for legislators to declare cheerleading a sport and now it's official, after a New York State Board of Regents took a vote on whether or not competitive cheerleading should be recognized as an interscholastic sport. 17 of the 17 members voted in favor.

This makes New York the 35th state to recognize competitive cheerleading as a sport. While sideline-only teams and organizations won't be affected by the decision, competitive squads will. Competitive teams and groups will now have to adhere to rules laid out by New York State Public High School Athletic Association, including length of seasons, frequency and length of required practice days, and time between competitions. Additionally, coaches will be required to receive certain certifications, which will focus on safety techniques. With cheerleading recognized as a sport, cheerleaders will also be more eligible for athletic scholarships for college.

While many are excited about this announcement, many wonder about the negative impact this decision will have, like possibly having to reduce their practice times or frequency. One particular negative impact is that teams will have to now hold tryouts and select teams during the fall, when the football and basketball seasons do, as opposed to the spring. This means no cheer camp or summer practices (for competitive-only squads. Sideline teams will still be able to hold tryouts in spring).

Reported by, Robert Zayas, the executive director of the NYSPHSAA, explained, "That might be a change that will take a little getting used to, because it is something different that they haven't dealt with before. But I think, overall, the opportunity to be aligned with other sports and have a state championship event is something that we are the most excited about."

Cheerleading teams won't be subject to the new requirements until the winter of 2015. Within the next two years, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association hopes to organize a state cheerleading championship.

In the big aspect of things, this is a huge triumph for cheerleaders. Cheerleaders will be eligible for athletic awards and scholarships, coaches will have the opportunity to learn more about safety techniques, and many squads will likely receive more funding from the state government. There will be some bumps along the way during the first few years, as teams adjust to the new requirements. While cheerleaders and coaches may at first see these limits on practice hours as a negative, we think that this will prevent teams from accidentally over-working their cheerleaders.

What do you think about this decision? In the end, will it benefit or hurt competitive cheerleading teams? Comment below!

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