According to a report, United States District Judge Stefan Underhill ruled on Wednesday, July 22 that competitive cheerleading is not an official sport as far as Title IX’s “gender equity requirements” are concerned.
The ruling came after Quinnipiac University volleyball players — along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — filed a lawsuit against the university, which was trying to cut the women’s volleyball program and replace it with a cheerleading squad due to budget constraints .
The report states that the Title IX gender equality requirements, passed in 1972, stipulate that “sports activities of men and women must have coaches, practices, competitions and a governing organization”. In addition, the article alleges that Judge Underhill ruled many of Quinnipiac University’s practices in violation of Title IX, particularly its “overstatement of female athletes” and “understatement of male athletes,” respectively. Commenting on his verdict, Judge Underhill was quoted as saying, “is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering students real sporting opportunities at university”.
Judge Underhill’s ruling comes as a surprise to many cheerleaders and cheerleading enthusiasts alike, especially considering that competitive cheerleading has grown in popularity around the world over the past decade. Over the past decade, the assimilation of cheerleaders into the programming of sports networks — like ESPN — and major film productions has made it hard to believe that such a popular (and demanding for its participants) sport could be considered anything less than a competitive sport. Read the Time Magazine article for a more detailed account.