Wick Communications

Cheerleading and sports

In sports on 16 Aug 2012 at 2:47 pm

Is cheerleading a sport? Are cheerleaders athletes? I ask, because I think this is the basis for what could be a good story in your newspaper.

Last week a federal appeals court in New York ruled that cheerleading does not qualify as a sport for purposes of meeting Title IX gender equity requirements. (Props to Half Moon Bay Review sportswriter Mark Foyer for pointing me to the ruling.) That means that the nation’s administrators can’t count an all-female cheerleader squad to offset an all-male football team. And that means, that many administrators who counted cheerleading as a sport will now have to offer girls and women new sporting opportunities or run the risk of a federal lawsuit.

Interesting, yes?

I think so. The courts have been wrestling with the issue for some time. In 2009, a Wisconsin state court took note of injuries and competitions involving cheerleaders and ruled it a “full-contact sport.” A year later, a federal court stated the exact opposite. The panel said cheerleading lacked program development and organization necessary for a true sport. I know that many cheerleaders consider themselves athletes and there is obvious athletic talent involved. If it’s not a sport, how do schools justify the danger? The journal Pediatrics reported that two-thirds of all injuries to female high school athletes were  suffered by cheerleaders. …

More interesting, to me, is how athletic directors at the high school and colleges will react. What would you find if you just counted the numbers of boys and girls involved in varsity sports at your schools? Run the numbers side by side. How many sports are offered for girls and boys? How much money is spent on each? Do they get the same kinds of uniforms? How about private support through boosters?

This is the kind of sports story that could well show up on the front page of your newspaper and it speaks to people who don’t traditionally read your sports pages.

Just an idea.


  1. As a cheerleader myself, I consider this a contact sport. We compete, condition and work just as hard as say volleyball players. That being said, in my school people say the speech team is a sport. If that can be considered a sport than why not cheerleading? If you ask me, I would recommend people to watch cheerleaders compete first.

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