A federal judge in Connecticut has ruled that competitive cheerleading doesn't qualify as a sport — after cash-strapped Quinnipiac University cut its female volleyball program, contending that its cheer squad was enough to satisfy U.S. gender-equality laws regarding sports funding. Judge Stefan R. Underhill decreed that, while "competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX," it's still "too underdeveloped and disorganized [to offer] genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students." (Watch an AP report about the decision.) While some commentators promptly booed, others rallied, boisterously, to Underhill's defense:
Three cheers for the judge's decision: "An essential part of sport is competition," says Scott Bordow in The Arizona Republic, and while cheerleaders may practice several hours a day and perform athletic feats and stunts, their efforts are more akin to entertainment or hype. "Other than the occasional regional or national event, cheerleaders... are there to, well, lead cheers." Sorry, but '2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate?' isn't a sport."
"Cheerleading a sport? Don't think so"
Nonsense: Those who say cheerleading isn't a "real" sport, says Deanna Harvey in the New York Daily News, aren't quite grasping the dangers of being catapulted 10 feet into the air and "landing (hopefully) into the arms of a 100-pound girl." Judge Underhill would be well-advised to do a little fieldwork. My suggestion: "Perform a backflip [and] wait for two petite girls to catch you." Then get back to me.
"Federal judge who rules cheerleading is not a sport under Title IX should toss his decision"
The risk factor is not at issue here: The validity of cheerleading has not been attacked, says Katy Kelleher in Jezebel. "The judge didn't rule that cheerleading is too easy ... to be considered a sport," but rather that it's not yet sufficiently structured "to replace a well-established sport like volleyball." Cheerleaders and their fans shouldn't take this decision personally. Underhill is arguably promoting women's equality — "hardly a bad thing."
"Cheerleading is not a sport, because some judge says so"