A new controversy out of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut has put collegiate cheerleading programs and all Title IX qualifying programs into a dramatic spotlight.
Last month, a district judge began hearing arguments from five Quinnipiac volleyball players and their coach, who are all suing the University for ending the Volleyball program in favor of funding the school's competitive cheerleading team instead. An Associated Press report
says that due to Title IX requirements and funding restrictions, the University had to eliminate one of the two women's sports teams. And apparently for Quinnipiac University, cheerleading is a less expensive sport to pay for, which led to the decision to nix the volleyball team rather then cheerleading.
However, the Quinnipiac volleyball team and coach argued in court last month that eliminating the volleyball team over the cheerleading team is actually in violation of Title IX, as competitive cheerleading should not be considered a actual collegiate sport that is included in the Title IX count for the school.
Comments have poured in on the issue, both for and against, if cheerleading becomes an 'official' collegiate sport....as it would have a tremendous affect on sports programs nationwide in terms of funding collegiate athletic programs to maintain gender equality under Title IX laws.
Mary Jo Kane, Director of Tucker Center for Girls and Women in Sports at the University of Minnesota, tells ABC News
that, "The outcome of this case could have a chilling effect on women's athletics programs if cheerleading is deemed a sport," she says, "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?"
Kane can't be serious. There is no equivalent comparison to the discussion about which, if one has to be chosen, is the more 'viable' sport to qualify under Title IX for women's sports at any collegiate institution. I'd challenge anyone to the gymnastics, timing, exactness, teamwork and display of enthusiasm cheerleaders exude everytime they perform -- and compete. Cheerleading has evolved - as has the definition and value of all athletic endeavors including females and males.
The plaintiffs of the trial argued that competitive cheerleading has potential to become a varsity sport one day, but it “was not there yet,” and could not be counted.
I'm thinking these girls 'count' - as do the volleyball players - and that's where the work needs to begin, with the fact that we have to decide at all.
Until the trial finishes, the volleyball team will stay in play at the University.
On Wednesday, July 21st, District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled that Competitive Cheerleading IS NOT
an official collegiate sport and cannot be included in the count for Title IX.
reports that Judge Underhill concluded that "Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX. Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students."
Did Judge Stefan make the right call here? When will Competitive Cheer be an actual 'sport'? We want to hear your thoughts!