Cheerleading is now a high school sport in Texas.
The University Interscholastic League voted Wednesday in favor of a one-year pilot program for game day cheer.
Game day cheer mimics a standard cheer event, but without the high-flying tosses and complex stunts. Starting in the 2015 school year, game day cheering will be a sport governed like other middle and high school athletics and will include a state championship competition.
“I think it's only fair that every kid get the opportunity to get to participate in something at school that they love to do, whether it's choir or band or wrestling or baseball,” said Cheralyn Armijo, the parent of a cheerleader.
If it is successful, the league can vote to extend the program past 2015.
The move to officially consider cheerleaders student-athletes may be because of a recent doctors group’s recommendations. The American Medical Association says cheerleading is the leading cause of catastrophic injuries in female athletes in high school and college, and on Monday, the association recommended that cheerleading in college and high school be recognized as sport because of the dangers and risks.
The Texas Medical Association echoed that to the UIL.
“It might make it a little safer, or they might do restrictions that make it more dangerous,” said Tina McCoy, the owner of Cheer Academy in Arlington.
Many school superintendents across the state voted against the game day cheer idea, but the UIL gave the go-ahead for the pilot program.
Districts will have to figure out how to pay for an additional sport, but Armijo thinks the added opportunity is a win for her daughter.
“For it to be something instead of just supporting a football team or a basketball team, it's something she'll actually get to compete in for her school and share her talents in that,” said Armijo. “It's really exciting.”
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