July 23, 2010

"Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX."

Wrote Judge Stefan R. Underhill of the United States District Court in Bridgeport:
“Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.”...
Underhill’s decision was a victory for the five women’s volleyball players who, along with their coach, sued Quinnipiac in 2009 after the university announced it was cutting their team and adding competitive cheerleading....
This is a complicated issue. Penn & Teller took it up in the first episode of the new season of "Bullshit!" I thought they woefully underplayed the Title IX legal issues, which they mainly cheaply disparaged by showing a feminist in an unattractive light and accusing her of wanting to force young women into her stereotype of what a woman should be, as this preview shows:



ADDED: The question shouldn't be what does "sport" mean in a general sense, but how it should be defined with respect to the pursuit of gender equality in education. As for the Quinnipiac case, the judge has to deal with the existing statute, regulations, and case law.

81 comments:

Matthew said...

I'll settle this argument right now:

If it doesn't have *Defense*, it's NOT a sport.

Therefore, Cheerleading, Golf, Skiing, Bowling, and collegiate Competitive Binge Drinking are NOT sports -- they are pasttimes.

And Title IX needs to be rescinded.

TRO said...

I suppose Competitive Pageanting will be next. If you think cheerleading moms are bad, just wait for Toddler and Tiara moms to hit the big time.

Trooper York said...

I guess this guy never watched Glee.

Matthew said...

Oh, forgot; add these to the list of they're-not-real-sports:

* Gymnastics
* Swimming
* Diving
* Any Track-and-field event
* Any activity that involves a motorized conveyance (like auto racing)
* Fishing

Hunting is still *technically* a sport, if only because of the possibility of hunter becoming prey.

MadisonMan said...

Matthew, I think that No Defense is too restrictive; it eliminates Track and Field and Swimming, for example.

Texan99 said...

"Underdeveloped and disorganized"? That's way harsh.

Trooper York said...

"Matthew said...
I'll settle this argument right now:

If it doesn't have *Defense*, it's NOT a sport"

Not true Matthew.

If you can't bet on it, then it is not a sport.

Joe said...

Modifying Trooper York's statement:

If it makes you sweat and you can bet on it, it's a sport.

David said...

Even been around some of these cheerleading teams? Or met the girls and their ponytail moms who go to cheerleading camps? Not competitive? Sheeesh. These girls are Natural Born Killers.

Matthew said...

I don't consider Track or Swimming to be sports, Mad Man; they're more like a display of primeval survival skills.

While I can appreciate the physical accomplishments of swimmers and runners, I just don't think that what they do rises to the level of what hockey/soccers, fastball hitters, and offensive linemen, do as a matter of course.

Swimmers and runners largely compete in events that do not lend themselves to frustrating an opponent's ability to win by use of strategy, positioning, subterfuge or physical play. It's simply a contest about who can run faster, or toss a 16-pound weight farther.

On a more technical note, the way Title IX is written, you could also make the argument that Glee Club is a "competetive sport", given that it is possible to have Vocal Coaches, Practices and organized competitions. Title IX isn't restrictive enough,in my opinion.

Paddy O said...

I would say that anything that has judges giving, or taking away, points in order to win is not a sport.

Yes, that would probably rule out much of the last World Cup, but so be it.

Freeman Hunt said...

I was never into cheerleading, but I have a hard time seeing how competitive cheer is less a sport than volleyball. Seems like it's more an issue of "less a sport I think girls should be into." Some people might think that cheerleading is prissy, but that's a matter of preference, and it's obvious that lots of people really like it.

Jana said...

Wow, this guy has never been involved in cheer world, it's clear.

Competitive cheerleaders practice year-round with the intensity that many sports restrict to a season.

Title IX needs to die.

Freeman Hunt said...

Matthew, that's all well and good, but swimming and track would obviously qualify as sports under Title IX.

Fen said...

If it doesn't have *Defense*, it's NOT a sport

Disagree. Its choregraphed gymnastics. Some of the stunts they pull off are incredible.

Matthew said...

Also on the Not-a-Real-Sport-List:

* Competitive Eating
* Mixed Martial Arts
* Rifle/Shoting teams
* Synchronized Swimming
* Most Winter activities involving a sled.
* Ballroom Dancing
* Speedskating
* Hurling

Freeman Hunt said...

I think I remember reading somewhere that competitive cheerleading is the country's most dangerous high school sport. Football included.

Fen said...

I don't consider Track or Swimming to be sports

Yah well, that kinda disqualifies your opinion on competitve cheer.

Paddy O said...

Matthew, I think running and swimming exemplify the idea that the best defense is a good offense.

There is an objective task being completed. And engaging in a defense would undermine the goal of the offense, which is to be first to a given point.

Freeman Hunt said...

Matthew, you're classifying all non-team sports as non-sports.

Fen said...

I think that No Defense is too restrictive; it eliminates Track and Field and Swimming, for example

As well as the Washington Redskins ;)

traditionalguy said...

The injuries and deaths to cheerleaders is higher than most other competive sports. It has become gymnastics. The judge here must be seeing this as an old feminist would see it... girls playing boys sports on female only teams is Equal, but girls playing girls sports on girls only teams cannot be counted.

bagoh20 said...

"Competitive Cheer" sounds like a drinking game.

Larry J said...

IMO, anything that depends on judges is flawed. Gymnasts are tremendous athletes with a lot of skill and strength but the judging is too often subjective.

Swimming and track events examples of pure sports. Other than relay events, you either win or lose strictly on your own abilities. There are few rules and almost no room for judging to sway the results. There's no room for excuses, either.

Paddy O said...

"I have a hard time seeing how competitive cheer is less a sport than volleyball."

For me, volleyball is a sport because it has objective goals, rules, and points that determine one teams victory over another. There is nothing subjective about it.

The better comparison, in my mind, is gymnastics. I cannot at all understand how gymnastics could be considered a sport while competitive cheerleading is not. Indeed, it seems that cheerleading is just a group floor exercise.

Matthew said...

@ Freeman:

"Matthew, you're classifying all non-team sports as non-sports."

You'll note that tennis, and racquet sports in general, did not make the Not-Sports list.

MadisonMan said...

Swimmers and runners largely compete in events that do not lend themselves to frustrating an opponent's ability to win by use of strategy, positioning, subterfuge or physical play.

There is a good amount of strategy involved in both cross-country running -- as in when to make a break, when to sit on a person's back, etc. -- and swimming, especially distance swimming.

Michael said...

If the outcome of an activity is determined by a panel of judges it is not a sport. Thus, diving is not but swimming is. Football is but cheerleading is not. Rowing is but figure skating is not.

Harder to categorize, however, are non-sports that have clear outcomes: golf, hot dog eating, etc.

traditionalguy said...

"Competitive" means striving to win a prize. Cheerleading is a competition prize winner twofer: the team member gets popularity/celebrity status and the team gets trophies.

Fen said...

So no Marathon for the Olympics? Ha.

Herodotus is going to haunt you!

Fen said...

If the outcome of an activity is determined by a panel of judges it is not a sport.

By that standard, Football is out too.

Fen said...

As is any "sport" that relies on the subjtective judgement of referee's and Review Panels.

MadisonMan said...

If you heart rate doesn't jump because of exertion while you are competing, it's not a sport.

This rules out Competitive Eating, Golf, Luge, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, half-pipe, Sailing, . . .

campy said...

... too underdeveloped ...

Not the cheerleaders I've seen.

Skyler said...

Title IX proves that Americans no longer know what it means to be free.

Fen said...

Well, the problem was brought on by College Football scholarships. My state is one of the worst offenders.

Why does a 4th-string Free Safety get a 2 year ride, but the All-State gymnist doesn't?

Big Mike said...

Everybody knows that the point of Title IX is to shut down as many men's sports as possible.

Paddy O said...

The argument from the video seems to be that cheerleading is not a sport because its goals are primarily oriented to be in support of another actual sport.

It is not directly competitive but serves the function of raising the morale of the primary participants.

In that way, it might be analogous to something more like "competitive refereeing" than volleyball.

A referee certainly has to be athletic, especially in more active sports, and they are assessed according to a set of standards, but to call it a competitive sport on its own would be absurd. The nature of the task insists on participation in support of another task.

But competitive cheerleading is not judged according to whoever objectively stimulates the most school spirit or boosts competitive morale.

It's judged much more like gymnastics, from what I can tell. So, I still can't see how gymnastics, for men or women, can be considered a sport and competitive cheerleading is not.

Birkel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Birkel said...

"True Sports" are those that are martial in nature. Thus swimming, javelin throwing, pole vaulting, wrestling and boxing are obviously "true sports".

Sports that do not have martial implications, such as football, volleyball, soccer and baseball, are still sports by some broad definition.

Meanwhile there are many things that are competitive (e.g. hot dog eating, scrabble and cheerleading) that are not sports by any definition I understand. That does not change the competitiveness of the participants and the usefulness of the competition to developing well-rounded members of society.

That, to me, seems to be where the judge has erred. If Title IX is solely about "sports" by his definition then he does not look to the legislative purpose: giving women competitive outlets they wish to have as women.

SteveR said...

The operative term here is "undeveloped". Cheer squads beyond cheering for their school's sports teams, go to competitions where very few people could tell you by watching, who won and by how much.

When my duaghter plays volleyball, there is at the very least a score that can tell you who wins. Scoring based on some well defined rules that are easily understood. Ball doesn't land in bounds, etc..

Things like gymnastics and figure skating, while more developed, I believe are not sports any more than ballet. Athletic yes.

Class factotum said...

If you can be fat and do the thing, it is not a sport. I'm talking to you, golf. At the least, you should have to break a sweat at some point in the competition.

Original Mike said...

"If it doesn't have *Defense*, it's NOT a sport."

There's always the Tonya Harding Defense.

bagoh20 said...

Fact is that "sport" is just a very poorly defined term in English. It always needs a modifier, especially if you're gonna write a law about it.

Bob_R said...

Any definition of sport that rules out track and field is hopelessly dumb. Back to the drawing board Matthew.

Birkel said...

P.S. to my "true sport" argument:

Title IX is misguided at best.

Trooper York said...

"Class factotum said...
If you can be fat and do the thing, it is not a sport."

Oh yeah!

Tell that to Mickey Lolich.

Or David Wells.

Or Babe Ruth for that fucking matter.

FAT GUYS RULE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Skyler said...

I think it would be just desserts and hilarious as well, if the definition of "sport" for Title IX purposes gets so stretched out by judges and administrative entities to include cheerleading and other such activities that it eventually includes competitive cooking.

So we'd be back to the beginning and keeping women in the kitchen!!

Michael said...

Madison Man: "This rules out Competitive Eating, Golf, Luge, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, half-pipe, Sailing, . . ."

Luge, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, half-pipe and sailing will definitely get the pumper going.

Golf and eating not so much.

Trooper York said...

What about sport fucking?

I enjoyed that in college.

Of course it was only intamurals, I wasn't good enough for the varisty.

But it still was a lot of fun.

Michael said...

Fen: I suppose I meant where the entire outcome of the event is determined by judges. And, yes, I realize that a bad call can mean the difference between winning and losing, but I am focused on the sports that are entirely adjudicated by judges. Gymnastics. Diving. Cheerleading. Activities where style points rule.

Paddy O said...

"If you can be fat and do the thing, it is not a sport."

In Sumo wrestling being fat is a major part of doing the thing.

LarsPorsena said...

I four years of competitive cheering my daughter suffered more orthopedic (broken fingers, torn ligaments, sprains etc.)injuries than her boyfriend who was the starting end.

We didn't have one injury free year (casts, splints, braces).
The boyfriend (who was shy about catching in traffic over the middle) never had more than bruises and scrapes.

That said, title IX sucks.

cryptical said...

They should split out revenue and non-revenue sports for purposes of Title IX. If a sport pays its own way, it's exempt.

c3 said...

If this is a Title IX issue its really letting schools off the hook. They just take their present cheer squad (i.e. the one on the sidelines of football games) and call it competitive. Then they can eliminate women's volleyball

virgil xenophon said...

Big Mike is correct. If not for Title IX we wouldn't even be having this conversation. Men's wrestling, gymnastics, swimming & diving and, depending on which sport the AD chooses to sacrifice, men's tennis and/or track has been devastated to the point we are well on the way to rapidly become non-competitive in those sports in the Olympics. But there's always the woman's softball team to cheer for...

BTW, Big Mike, as a long time denizen of New Orleans and coastal south Louisiana, James Lee Burk pretty much nails the atmospherics. Read EVERY SINGLE ONE of his works!

Gabriel Hanna said...

Instead of arguing about Title IX, we're arguing about what is, or is not, manly enough to be considered a real sport?

Nice.

When college athletics has fifty women's teams and football, you have yourselves to thank.

bagoh20 said...

I always considered cheerleaders as part of the team. I never understood why they didn't use our showers. I thought they were just uppity.

traditionalguy said...

Virgil...At a book store in Fernandina Beach they were selling collectors original editions of all 23 hard back Dave Robocheaux novels by James Lee Burke for $2400. He is a great writer with wonderful characters.

traditionalguy said...

Virgil...Thinking about the entertaining Dave Robicheaux novels, we enjoyed the lead character's heroics, but most southern readers and Burke himself probably identified more strongly with the Clete Purcell character.

DADvocate said...

It's obvious that the judge made a decision based on sexual attraction. I'm sure it was a tough one, but the slim, long legged girls in the skin tight volleyball shorts won out over the shorter, chunkier built, cheerleaders in shorts.

BTW - I've been to a couple of Morehead State University football games. The MSU cheerleading squad has won several national championships. It's scary to watch some of the stuff they do. And, yes, "Morehead" is their name and the student motto.

Fen said...

When college athletics has fifty women's teams and football, you have yourselves to thank.

Football soaks up the resoures for the fifty men's teams.

Fen said...

Micheal: but I am focused on the sports that are entirely adjudicated by judge

Boxing is not a sport?

Almost Ali said...

Before all the "men" here turn into totally mindless wimps, just consider your participation in this discussion.

mtrobertsattorney said...

Judge: "While competitive cheer may be a sport in the general sense, I must apply the Althouse Rule. Therefore, I find that competitive cheer cannot be considered to be a "sport" for purposes of Title IX because it either retards, disparages, or is neutral in the pursuit of gender equality in education."

Huh??

edutcher said...

The Blonde's two younger nephews go to a school where they get graded for Marching Band.

It's also a "sport".

Matthew said...

Also on the Not-a-Real-Sport-List:

* Mixed Martial Arts


When you tell that to The Blonde, be sure to give me the names of your next of kin and primary care physician beforehand.

PS Why has no one mentioned jousting?

Joe said...

Football soaks up the resour[c]es for the fifty men's teams.

At many universities, football pays for all the sports teams and has money left over.

Original Mike said...

"Boxing is not a sport?"

Win by knock out: Sport
Win by decision: Not a sport.

Larry J said...

Class factotum said...
If you can be fat and do the thing, it is not a sport. I'm talking to you, golf. At the least, you should have to break a sweat at some point in the competition.


I wouldn't necessarily go so far as that. There are some football linemen who aren't exactly slender who might disagree, too. Remember "Refrigerator" Perry? He was one of the first 300+ pound football players back in the 1980s. I think it was the late Mike Royko (sp?) who called him "The best use of fat since bacon."

Now, anything you can do while drinking isn't a sport, IMO. Bowling. softball and golf come to mind.

Fen said...

At many universities, football pays for all the sports teams and has money left over.

Yah, you're right. My bad.

Big Mike said...

@virgil, I thought I had read most of them but I had missed Crusader's Cross, which is on my nightstand right now. I'm a little worried about Glass Rainbow, which I haven't bought yet and which is apparently even darker than most Burke novels. And Dave Robicheaux novels are not for someone looking for a bit of light reading

maninthemiddle said...

Back in the day, I was in the ranks of those pushing for athletic opportunities for women. What we got with Title IX was an execution for mens sports. Baseball, wrestling, soccer, track... school after school has dropped them to meet Title IX requirements.
Womenistas refused to acknowledge that football was an outlier with 100 students. Thus, mens sports get cancelled, and women's crew grabs girls off campus streets for scholarship spots.
A broad generalization - but there be truth in these words.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Easy solution - teams that pay for themselves at a school are not considered for Title IX.

Freeman Hunt said...

They just take their present cheer squad (i.e. the one on the sidelines of football games) and call it competitive.

No, competitive cheerleading is a specific thing and much much different than cheering for another team on the sidelines. Competitive cheerleading is more like group gymnastics with stunts set to music. It requires a very high level of fitness.

First example I found.

I'd say that it's clearly a sport. Looks like it involves more than five people volleyball had too.

Freeman Hunt said...

But thank goodness the government set the law as it has. I feel more equal to men knowing that women can play volleyball but not competitive cheer at this school. If they added women's wrestling and football teams, I'd feel even more equal--even if no one played on them.

Freeman Hunt said...

Note: I'm arguing this position as someone who never went out for cheerleading, thought cheerleading was silly when I was in school, played soccer and basketball, and ran cross country. So, I can't be accused of having some special love for cheerleading over other sports.

Freeman Hunt said...

Competitive cheer: Like NK's Mass Games but with fewer people and no communism.

Big Mike said...

Well, if you added a mud puddle, then women's wrestling could not only be a sport, but a revenue sport as well.

Golly I'm such a pig sometimes.

rcocean said...

If figure skating, synchronized swimming, target shooting, race card driving, and Gymnastics are sports - why not cheer-leading?

BTW, I'm glad my daughter is a cheerleader and not a Shot-putter or a boxer.

Lionheart said...

rcocean: Yikes, playing the race card is now a sport? Jesse must be a Hall of Famer.

William said...

Some exceptions, but in general men prefer sports where they can physically dominate their opponent. Women prefer sports where they can look really, really cute while competing. The money sports for women are figure skating, gymnastics, and soccer. Since they started wearing bikinis, sprint events have gain in popularity.