Gimme an I-W-G-A! Cheer Added as Podium Sport to World Games | Sports Destination Management

Gimme an I-W-G-A! Cheer Added as Podium Sport to World Games

May 23, 2024 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

Cheer may not have made it to the Olympics yet, but it has landed a spot as a podium sport in another highly respected international multi-sport competition presented quadrennially: The World Games.

In 2025, cheer will be contested in the World Games when they are presented in Chengdu, China, from August 7-17, 2025. The International Cheer Union (ICU) has been given full membership status at the International World Games Association (IWGA).

Also receiving full membership status was a sport that was previously featured in the Games when they were presented in Birmingham, Alabama in 2022: Flag Football.

The IWGA Members reviewed the two federations’ applications and the delegates voted to approve them on May 1 at the IWGA Annual General Meeting in Esslingen, Germany

The ICU was fully recognized by the IOC in 2021 as the world governing body for the sport of cheer and its disciplines and the global authority on all matters related to it.

Stateside, competitive spirit has long been in the National Federation of State High School Associations’ top-10 list of high school sports for girls; in fact, it has taken the place of gymnastics teams, once a fixture in many high schools.

Cheer is contested at the collegiate level, as well as in independent cheer gyms, known as all-star programs. It is a popular travel sport among both its school-associated programs and all-star programs. Social media has played an enormous role in showcasing full-squad routines as well as partner stunts, contributing to the enormous growth of the sport overall.

Gimme an I-W-G-A! Cheer Added as Podium Sport to World Games“We’re thrilled to have cheerleading officially join the International World Games Association family as we continue to grow our sport in the United States and around the world,” said Lauri Harris, executive director of USA Cheer. “This is an important milestone and paves the way for additional global opportunities.  Many thanks to the International Cheer Union for their tireless efforts and GA President José Perurena and the IWGA Members for the work to move cheer forward.”

Cheer enthusiasts had been hoping the sport, with its North American pedigree, would be a showcase sport at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028. Although it was not granted a spot there, it has continued its nearly stratospheric growth. Cheer had already made its mark on the Olympics when it was showcased at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang. Several countries sent squads; the USA was one of these.

 A similar sport, STUNT, uses elements of cheer (minus the crowd-leading aspect); it is presently an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, and USA Cheer actively sponsors combines for both cheer and STUNT, allowing high school athletes to showcase their skills to college coaches.

Another world multi-sport group, the International University Sports Federation (FISU) offers competition in both cheer and dance.

ICU President Jeff Webb said, “ICU’s acceptance into the IWFA family as full members is an incredible milestone for millions of Cheer athletes worldwide, as well as for our coaches, officials, National Federations and Cheer enthusiasts on all continents. The ICU expresses its deepest appreciation to IWGA President José Perurena and the IWGA Members for the positive vote and the confidence in the ICU to be a valuable contributor to the World Games movement. As an IWGA Member, the ICU looks forward to delivering an incredible event in Chengdu and in future editions of The World Games for years to come.”

Perurena noted that “flag football and cheerleading are two popular sports that will further enhance the appeal of The World Games sports program and will contribute to the extraordinary growth of our event.”

The next edition of the World Games is expected to have 5,000 participants from more than 100 countries; it will be the 12th edition of the Games.

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