SportsEvents Magazine

MAR 2018

SportsEvents is edited for those who plan tournaments or other sports events.

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Page 45 of 75

March 2018 46 There are numerous elements that draw athletes to cheerleading and USA Cheer, the national governing body for sport cheering, has helped add another: STUNT. STUNT is the fastest-growing female sport in the country. It's a discipline of cheerleading that removes the crowd ele- ment and instead focuses on the technical and athletic parts of cheer, such as partner stunts, basket tosses and tumbling. USA Cheer created STUNT to specifically target colleges, universities and high schools to help them meet Title IX requirements. The traditional format of competition cheer is not actually deemed a sport in the United States because it doesn't meet the sport requirements from a Title IX perspective, so USA Cheer saw the need to create a version that is Title IX compliant. "STUNT is our newest initiative and every year up to 40 colleges are participating in STUNT," said Lauri Harris, USA Cheer's executive director. "In the meantime, it has been exploding at the high school level. More than 10 states are hosting some form of STUNT at the high school level." USA Cheer has applied for and is awaiting word on whether STUNT will be granted official sport status, something the organization has been working toward for the past few years. In California, STUNT was recently adopted as a sport. "In California this spring, more than 100 high schools will be playing STUNT in a traditional sports format," Harris said. "That is big." While STUNT is the organization's major initiative to grow the sport of cheer- leading, USA Cheer is also putting an additional emphasis on safety. The organi- zation is bringing more resources to coach training, additional rules training and keep- ing everyone up to date on the latest ways coaches and organizations can keep ath- letes safe. "Our mission is involving young people in cheerleading," said Harris. "We want to make sure we are doing all we can to help promote the sport while focusing on what's in the best interest of the athletes to keep them safe." With participation in the United States as high as ever and a growing interest around the world, the International Cheer Union is working to get cheerleading added as an Olympic sport. USA Cheer is doing all it can to help: the organization attend- ed the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea in an ambassador role to showcase the sport. "Cheerleading is such a great activity because there is so much athletes can learn through the sport," said Harris. "Specifically, kids who are involved in general tend to have higher grades, have a higher graduation rate, are more likely to attend college and be stronger leaders because they've been involved in a team environment. Being involved in any sort of athletic activity, like cheerleading, increases the ability to communicate, and teamwork and leadership." n t SPORT Report Come Play in kansas city, ks! justin stine, meetings & sports sales manager 913.321.5800 | justin@ sports USA Cheer created STUNT for high school and college athletes.

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