Opening arguments were heard today in Connecticut at a trial to determine whether or not cheerleading should be considered a sport, and how it should be federally funded under Title IX. The trial is brought by Quinnipiac University's women's volleyball team, which claims the university is attempting to dismantle their team in favor of the competitive cheer squad. This unfortunate in-fighting brings into question the legitimacy of cheerleading as a sport and the case will set the precedent for defining the funding that cheer teams will receive.
The argument is that cheerleading does not meet the federally defined standards for a sport under Title IX because to be considered a sport, it must have competition as its primary goal-- not merely the support of other athletic teams. But anyone that has even a base understanding of cheerleading knows that cheering at football games is the least of cheerleaders concerns. The main goal of many cheer teams is competition against other teams, which get into the national and international levels.
Coincidentally, the debate of cheerleading as sport was aired earlier this month in an episode of Penn and Teller's Bullshit series on Showtime. Here is a small excerpt from a woman who believes that it should not be considered a sport:
But how else would cheerleading become the most dangerous female athletic activity, if all they are theoretically doing is waving their pom-poms and rooting for the boys? The women and men who cheerlead follow rigorous workouts and execute highly difficult routines that take weeks and weeks of practice- and this support is coming from the weirdo, skateboarding punk girl to which cheerleaders existed as a sort of unharmonious polar opposite. I'm rooting for the cheerleaders in this one!