Federal Judge: Cheerleading Not a Sport

Let the message--and the howls of protest--ring forth

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A federal judge in Connecticut judge ruled Wednesday that cheerleading does not qualify as a sport under Title IX. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed against Quinnipiac University by members of the school's women's volleyball program over the school's plan to replace the volleyball team with a cheer squad. The cheer squad, the judge ruled, doesn't count as a valid substitute for the volleyball team, and can't be used to satisfy the requirement of "equal opportunities for men and women in athletics," summarized the Associated Press. It's a story that has caught the attention of cheer and cheer-nots alike.

  • The Definition of a Sport Deanna Harvey of the New York Daily News--an ex-cheerleader herself--can't fathom how an activity that requires so much athletic prowess isn't a sport.
"I began cheering my freshman year of high school and it immediately gave me a confidence I'd never had before. It also made me appreciate what it takes to succeed in a competitive, challenging and dangerous environment - and isn't that the definition of a sport?"

  • Frustration for Cheerleaders Cheer coach Eric Contreras told Britt Moreno of Fox 10 (Phoenix) that the ruling will kill scholarship oppurtunities for cheerleaders. The days of participants using cheerleading as a way to "get their educations paid for through these universities" might be over said Contreras.
  • Regional Bias? Theresa Walsh Giarusso of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution complained that a judge from Connecticut lack the expertise to rule on an overwhelmingly southern pastime. "I will venture to guess that Judge Underhill has never been down South and watched a competition cheerleading squad prepare or compete!"
  • How the University Screwed Up Quinnipiac's biggest mistake might have been not taking their cheer program seriously enough, suggests Chris Hansen of the Oregon Register-Guard. In his comparison of the Quinnipiac cheer program to the University of Oregon's, he notes Quinnipiac "didn't provide a locker room for its competitive cheer team, didn't allow off-campus recruiting during the first year, didn't have a national search for a head coach and ultimately turned its sideline cheerleading squad into its competitive cheer team."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.