Cheerleaders at all levels have fought to earn the recognition that what they do requires physical skills, training and hours of practice just like any athletic endeavor and should be considered a sport. Recently courts and state athletic associations have been confirming that which makes the cheerleaders, well, cheer, but now they may not be so happy. Along with the perks of being called a sport comes the responsibility of being drug tested, just like all the other jocks at school.
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Here’s more on the story from the Fresno Bee:
High school cheerleaders have argued for years that they’re athletes — just like football, baseball and basketball players. Cheerleaders do complex stunts, work out with weights, and practice from June to March.
Now cheerleaders in Visalia can prove their point: They’re being tested for drugs. Under a school policy approved last month, cheerleaders must submit to the same random drug tests given to other student-athletes. It appears to be the first district in the central San Joaquin Valley to take this step.
Cheerleading coach Cara Carnahan at Mt. Whitney High welcomes the change. “You don’t want your daughter being thrown into the air by anyone on drugs,” Carnahan said. The change marks a big step toward recognizing cheerleaders as athletes, a status that has been denied them for a long time. “To me, cheerleading is a sport,” said Redwood High cheer coach Lisa Bardonnex. “It’s an evolving thing. Are we recognized as athletes? No.”
It’s annoying not to get more respect from peers for the physical skill of cheer squads, said sophomore Gianna Buldo, 15, a cheerleader at Redwood High.
The vexing question of what is an “activity” and what is “athletics” is a touchy subject, admits Drew Sorensen, area administrator for Visalia Unified. The state education code allows football players and other athletes — but not cheerleaders — to play a sport in lieu of taking state-required physical education classes.
Yet now the district is telling cheerleaders to prepare for random drug testing.
” ‘You always said we’re not athletes,’ ” Sorensen said, quoting a common refrain he’s heard from cheerleaders.