According to Jeff Webb, CEO of the cheerleading organization Varsity Spirit, cheerleading should not be considered a competitive sport.
His testimony comes in the middle of a case where students from Quinnipiac University sued the school when they eliminated the volleyball team in favor of a competitive cheer squad.
The “is cheerleading a sport?” debate has been going on for some time. In January of 2009, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that, not only was cheerleading a sport, it was a contact sport.
OK, so what’s my stance on this? It really comes down to defining what a “sport” is. There are lots of different things that go into that definition in my mind, including the need for some sort of high-level athletic activity in the sport, formal rules and regulations, and some form of formal competition ending with some kind of result, i.e. winning and losing.
The reason it’s tough to apply this to cheerleading is that last bit. When you’re talking about cheerleading competitions, where there’s competition, rules and scoring, I’m on board as far as it being a sport is concerned.
But, if we’re just talking about standing in a group and doing a routine, even one that is physically demanding, I just can’t buy it. That’s lacking the element of competition that–to me–makes it a sport. It’s akin to a couple of guys throwing a football around. Yes, they’re doing something athletic, and yes the actions are elements of a sport, but it’s not a sport in and of itself.
The problem is most of the general public never sees the competition side of cheerleading. For many people, they’ve never seen cheerleaders outside of cheering at a football or basketball. So the view they have of cheerleading is much different than the reality.
Where this could get interesting is with Title IX implications. According to ESPN, the judge in the Quinnipiac case is trying “to decide whether cheerleading can be counted as a sport by schools looking for ways to meet gender-equity requirements.” Since one of the three prongs for Title IX compliance is “providing athletic participation opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the student enrollment” the ruling could have substantial impact.
(This, of course, overlooks the fact that schools do NOT need to provide proportional opportunities to be in compliance with Title IX, and any school making this argument in defense of cutting a sport should be embarrassed.)
This topic’s probably not done for, so stay tuned
Via ESPN, Sports Law Blogspot