Cheerleading Is Not a Sport

USA Today takes a middle school cliché and runs with it

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Straining to turn a junior high talking point into a national discussion, USA Today devoted its editorial page to answering the most pressing of questions: "Should cheerleading be considered a sport?" In the first of two opinions, the editorial board offers a strapping defense of the activity, er, sport, comparing the physical prowess of cheerleaders to football players:

Homecoming crowds gathering at college stadiums this month would be hard-pressed to say the cheerleaders are less skilled or practiced at what they do than the football players ... Cheer and dance squads deserve recognition under federal law.

The article goes on to claim that the only thing stopping cheerleading from being recognized as a national sport, is misguided feminism and an intrusive Washington bureacracy.

But to give its readers a robust worldview, USA Today provided  a dissenting opinion below the op-ed. Karen Durkin, the CEO of the Women's Sports Foundation, argues in a letter that cheerleading is in fact an "activity" not a sport:

Cheer and dance teams may sporadically act like sports teams when, for example, they engage in championship competitions. But the mere existence of a lone end-of-season competitive opportunity does not transform an activity into a sport.

Ms. Durkin argues that schools often label cheerleading a sport as a loophole to fulfilling their obligations under Title IX, which requires schools to offer equal funding to men and women's sports.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.