Cheerleading: Not a Sport?

The catchphrase is that nothing is official until “you put it on paper.” This summer a federal judge in Connecticut did just that when he ruled Quinnipac University could not replace its volleyball team with a competitive cheerleading squad to satisfy gender requirements under Title IX, the 1972 federal law that mandates equality for men and women in athletics.

So, according to U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill, it’s official: cheerleading is not a sport. He ruled, “Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX. Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.”
Bill Seely, the executive director of USA Cheer, the national governing body for sideline and competitive cheerleading talked to Memphisport about the ruling.

What is USA Cheer doing as a result of the ruling?
USA Cheer launched the new sport called Stunt, designed to meet NCAA Emerging Sport Status and satisfy Title IX requirements.

Are cheerleading programs “underdeveloped and disorganized”?
There were really only five teams that were participating in the Stunt format at the time of the trial, so it didn’t meet the requirements of Title IX and the Emerging Sport Status. We needed 20 teams participating. Since the ruling, USA Cheer has more than the required number of teams participating and now complies with the strict standards of Title IX and Emerging Sport Status.

Where does the perception come from that cheerleading is not a genuine athletic activity?
I don’t think that is the prevailing opinion. Even Judge Underhill said that there was no doubt that cheerleading was athletic. And more people, now that cheer has been showcased on ESPN, understand how athletic it is. Some people might have a problem since it doesn’t fit neatly into a traditional ‘sport’ box.

Written by Brandi Hunter

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