New York State education officials voted Tuesday to recognize competitive cheerleading as an interscholastic sport, in an effort to improve safety and coaching standards.
All 17 of the Regents voted to authorize the change.
Now, starting with the winter athletic season, competitive cheerleading teams will be subject to safety requirements similar to other high school sports, like baseball or football. Those include certification requirements for coaches, mandatory rest days between competitions and limits on season length.
Right now, there are no limits on the length of seasons or required practice days.
“This is a great step for the progress of cheerleading, and tomorrow’s vote by the Board of Regents could be historical,” said Robert Zayas, president of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, which would implement coaching and safety standards.
Now that cheerleading will be recognized as a sport, the New York Public High School Athletic Association says it hopes to organize a full state cheerleading championship within the next two years.
The new regulations do not apply to traditional sideline cheering, according to the state Education Department. The change only applies to schools with teams that participate in cheerleading competitions.
The only question that remains is if the sport will still be called cheerleading.