U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill in Connecticut ruled this week that competitive college cheerleading does not qualify as a sport under Title IX. The decision comes in a case filed over Quinnipiac University’s plans to drop volleyball and replace it with a competitive cheerleading program. But a lot of other colleges and universities around the country (including my alma mater Oregon) could eventually be impacted, because they’ve relied on this activity to satisfy federal requiring gender equity in college athletics.
Parochial footnote: The law came about over complaints first raised at Washington State University.
Judge Underhill didn’t reach his decision because he considered cheerleading, with all its acrobatics, unworthy of the label athletics. It was because the competitive cheerleading competitions are organized and run not by colleges and universities but by private organizations.
What strikes me about this development is that after more than 30 years of expectations that institutions of higher education would commit generally balanced resources to men’s and women’s sports, so many schools are still relying on artifices to look like they’re complying instead of just meeting the spirit as well as the letter of the law.
I bet you have opinions, too.