Court hears cheerleading case: Sport or not?
A Connecticut federal court judge is learning a lot about college cheerleading this week.
Is it a sport? How about a varsity sport? How does Title IX apply?
Quinnipiac University cut its women's volleyball team so it could have a competitive cheer squad, which the university says is a less expensive program that serves more women, the New Haven Register reported.
Five volleyball players and their coach sued the university, alleging that cheerleading is not a real sport and the university improperly counts or exaggerates its number of athletes to get around Title IX requirements. The university has also dropped men's golf, and men's outdoor and indoor track, according to the Register.
(It is unclear if either side at any point used the phrase, "Bring it on.")
Title IX, which celebrates its 38th birthday today, is a federal law that mandates equal opportunity for women in athletics. Many universities are carefully watching this case, as the inclusion of cheerleaders in athlete counts could make it easier for programs to have the same number of women and men playing sports.
Mary Jo Kane, director of the Tucker Center for Girls and Women in Sports at the University of Minnesota, told ABC News that "the outcome of this case could have a chilling effect on women's athletics programs if cheerleading is deemed a sport."
"No one wants to denigrate cheerleading, but should it be considered sport at the expense of legitimate women's competitive team sports? It's a question of equality," Kane said. "How would people react if the school cut a men's sport like baseball or lacrosse and used those funds for a male cheerleading squad?"
The trial began Monday. Expert witness Jeff Webb, chief executive of Varsity Spirit, testified that making cheerleading a competitive college sport would threaten "classical sideline cheerleading," according to the Associated Press. He added that cheerleading is as much of a sport as chess.
And a little bit about Quinnipiac University: It's about 90 minutes outside of New York City in Hamden, Conn., right next to Sleeping Giant Mountain. The private university has 5,700 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students. It's best known for its polling institute.
What do you think? Should cheerleading be added to the list of college sports?
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June 23, 2010; 11:12 AM ET
Categories: News Overload | Tags: Cheerleading, Title IX
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