Is Cheerleading a Sport? That is the Question…

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Recently a women’s volleyball team at Quinnipiac University was cut and replaced with a competitive cheerleading squad. The volleyball players sued the school saying that it was in violation of Title IX. This past week a Connecticut judge decided that the volleyball players were right because cheerleading is not a sport, therefore the University was in violation because it didn’t have equal funding for female sports.

This case brings a lot of good questions in to focus. Is cheerleading a sport? And if it is, is it fair to fund it and cut a female volleyball team? I have to say that if you had asked me a few years ago, I would have to say that cheerleading may have athletic attributes but is not nearly the sport that volleyball is. I doubt I would have been that nice about it either.

However, chalk it up to growing up and broadening my views, I would say that my opinion has changed. This past year I lived with a cheerleader. She was a freshman and had managed to nab a spot on our school’s squad. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t have prevailing stereotypes about cheerleaders and cheerleading as a sport but my roommate helped me open my eyes to the fact that Bring It On got it wrong.

My roommate had a 4.0, didn’t like to party, and worked her butt off. Through her I met other cheerleaders who were tough, smart athletes. She talked about the 6 am practices, the cardio, the weight training, the dangerous tumbling, and the constant throws and tricks. It seemed like every week a new member of the squad suffered an injury, from concussions to broken bones. These girls were tough.

So when I heard about the judge’s ruling that cheerleading was not a sport, I completely disagreed. Granted I was just as upset that volleyball was getting cut, since I used to play, but that doesn’t mean I think it was right that the court got to make a ruling about whether cheerleading is a sport or not.

Go to a competitive cheerleading event and I think you will change your mind. Not many people could do what those women and men do all the time.  In the end, in a happy world both the volleyball team and the competitive squad would get to stay on at the university, but apparently only one more female sport can stay and the University isn’t saying what women’s athletic team gets to stay. Makes you wonder if all this would happen if it was men’s golf and men’s lacrosse fighting it out for funding? Would they say that either of those wasn’t a sport?

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