Acro and Tumbling started around the same time as Stunt, with both trying to be an answer to the Title IX requirements that traditional gameday cheerleading didn’t address. While gameday cheerleaders are undoubtedly athletic, especially those at competitive NCA and UCA schools, the structure of traditional cheer programs didn’t meet the requirements to be accepted as a sport—and the coed component made them ineligible to satisfy Title IX. So enter Stunt and the National Collegiate Acro and Tumbling Association (NCATA), both vying to be the first to be recognized and both with strong financial backing.
Stunt began in 2011, funded by Varsity Brands. It attracted gameday cheerleaders, gymnasts, all-star cheerleaders and acro athletes with its concentration on athletic skills and presentation. Teams compete side-by-side on the same mat with the same skills simultaneously, being judged on their technique and execution through stunts, jumps and tumbling, pyramids and tosses, and finally a team performance. USA Cheer (the national governing body for all forms of cheerleading in the US) develops and distributes the plays to participating colleges.
NCATA attracts athletes with a similar background and is backed by USA Gymnastics (the national governing body for all forms of gymnastics, tumbling, trampolining, and acrobatics). Working with USA Gymnastics professionals, acrobatics and tumbling created a compulsory program with skills that include progressions. NCATA meets have 6 scoring elements that include stunts, pyramids, tosses, and tumbling (read more here). Unlike Stunt, athletes committed to Acro and Tumbling do not participate in sideline cheer and are not eligible to compete at NCA or UCA college national competitions; their only focus is on acro and tumbling.
Over the last few years, Stunt and NCATA have been in a battle for recognition as an emerging sport and this week, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics finally decided to recommend advancing NCATA. In their statement, the CWA cited acro and tumbling athletes being fully integrated within athletics departments, the potential growth of the sport, the enjoyment of participating athletes and meeting all the objective criteria for emerging sport consideration as reasons for supporting its advancement.
While Stunt will likely continue at various colleges and high schools around the country as a rigorous and challenging sport for its participants, we would like to congratulate the NCATA for their hard work in developing a strong, athletic and commanding sport for cheerleaders to continue through college.
For more info, see here.