OT: Courts to decide if cheerleading is a sport

Submitted by Sgt. Wolverine on June 22nd, 2010 at 5:17 PM

It seems members of the Quinnipiac volleyball team have sued the school for cutting the volleyball team in order to fund a cheerleading squad.  They're asserting that cheerleading doesn't fit the definition of a sport under Title IX.




June 22nd, 2010 at 5:32 PM ^

This is ridiculous.  Yes, competitive cheerleading is a sport in the Title IX sense.

Shame on Quinnipiac for dropping a team in order to add a team that is cheaper to run.  The volleyball team should be pissed because they are basically trying to make a budget cut and covering it up with "oh but look cheer can offer competitive opportunities for a greater amount of girls."

EDIT: Can you give scholarships to cheerleaders?  This seems to say no:



June 22nd, 2010 at 5:55 PM ^

Interestingly enough, Wikipedia says that Title IX makes no mention of sports even though that is where it is most commonly applied. A google search came up with this:


I guess a court previously took the ambiguous dictionary definition of  an "activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs" and gave a slightly different definition that a sport requires at least incidental contact with an opponent or teammate and competition is not required.

Basically, what all of this comes down to is how that judge defines a sport. If the volleyball team can convince him that a objective scoring as opposed to subjective judging is part of the definition of sport, then they will win the case. If the judge feels that judging is a valid form of scoring, then the cheerleaders win.

James Burrill Angell

June 22nd, 2010 at 6:04 PM ^

When the Title IX decisions came down, a big part had to do with (a) schools funding even with the male/female ratio of the student body (generally accepted as 50/50. (b) as an offshoot of funding, the number of scholarships became crucial in determining the even nature between mens and womens sports (accordingly you saw additions of women's rowing in many places since that may one of the few women's sports that can eat up a ton of scholarships and adding one or two extra womens sports to offset the massive number of scholarships the football teams added to the mens side of the ledger.

Accordingly, for this to be a true Title IX issue, the athletic dept would have to be funding and likely providing scholarships to the cheerleaders.

Scott Dreisbach

June 23rd, 2010 at 12:17 AM ^

I have some inside information on this subject.  The NCAA does not officially recognize cheerleading as a sport; however, the Big Ten recognizes cheerleading as a varsity sport.  Cheerleaders at Big Ten Universities get the same privileges and clothing/apparel that other varsity sports get such as free Adidas shoes, warmups, and access to the student athlete center.  

There are no scholarships in the Big Ten for cheerleading.  It is important to understand that Big Ten cheerleading is not very good.  Southern schools such as those in the SEC actually recruit kids and give them scholarships.  Some of the top programs like Kentucky or Louisville will pay for kids schools, but their teams are far more competitive than any Big Ten team.


June 22nd, 2010 at 5:39 PM ^

A girl from my high school went to Michigan and she was a cheerleader for the football team and I could be wrong but I am pretty sure she got a scholarship for cheerleading.

James Burrill Angell

June 22nd, 2010 at 5:59 PM ^

what amount to endowed "academic" scholarships at UofM that go to cheerleaders. I think the difference is that the scholarship is held by an academic unit (like LS&A) to be given to a cheerleader. That said, as I've found out, money set aside in an academic unit by a donor for endowed scholarship still counts against athletic department scholarships allowed by the NCAA if the perameters of the scholarship involve participation in a sport.

My only question is, as mentioned before does cheerleading count towards Title IX compliance (which isn't an NCAA issue, its compliance with federal law).

Not making any judgments either way but it is an interesting legal argument.


June 22nd, 2010 at 6:47 PM ^

VERY good idea to encourage voluntary workout time for football players.

If you have USC's cheerleaders, wouldn't that make any time that they are in the weight room pretty damn mandatory that you be there?


June 22nd, 2010 at 8:01 PM ^

Competitive cheerleading used to be one of my childhood favorties on ESPN while sitting at home on weekday mornings. You used to see competitions almost every week of the summer. It was on right after Lumber Jack Games and right before Dog Olympics. Damn World's Strongest Man polluting morning sports programming and removing all the fun oldies.


June 22nd, 2010 at 9:17 PM ^

is this. How much does it take to run an entire program for a school year, all expenses included? The wrestling team at my high school doesn't even cost $10,000 (i don't know if that's expensive or not for "non-revenue" sports, but we're state champions and we spend a lot of money on things) and even though we're mostly self-funded, let's say for a second the school pays our way. So that's $10,000. But how much does each individual kid bring in from the state? Isn't it a couple thousand? So if just 2 or 3 kids left to go elsewhere because they can't get their sport, you'd be talking losing money from cancelling the program. The big dogs, so to speak, don't see the big picture.


June 23rd, 2010 at 2:26 AM ^

Universities treat spirit teams (cheer, dance, mascots) very differently across the Big Ten, and across the country.  They can be varsity, club varsity, or club teams - this, of course, greatly affects how the teams are funded.  For example - when I was in school, Michigan and Ohio State were the only two Big Ten schools that did not customarily send their Dance Team to the bowl game.

I also remember when I was in school (early-mid 2000s), applying for "varsity" designation had more to do with Title IX (and having a corresponding sport) than if spirit teams were "a sport" at all.  Cheer is co-ed, so they can kind of do whatever they want, whereas Dance Teams are usually all women (although there is no rule - there are men on some college teams).

With varsity status comes a lot more regulation, and different schools/teams handle that differently.  At Michigan, at the time, we decided the benefits didn't outweigh the additional responsibilities.  I believe Michigan State's Dance Team (formerly Motion) has a very tight relationship with the Athletic Dept, and might be pursuing Varsity status if they don't already have it.