The Cheerleading Trial. . . What Does It Mean to Us Parents?

The following article was written for the USASF First Friday Newsletter.

It was hard not to notice some of the media coverage surrounding the Quinnipiac University trial where a judge ruled that, for the purposes of Title IX, cheerleading is not yet a sport.  That statement sparked numerous articles from across the country jumping either for or against the ruling with many statements arguing the case.  Many parents were outraged to hear that all the time, money, and countless hours spent at the gym and on the road could not be called a sport.  Let me try to put this in the perspective of what it means to us as parents and our kids in All Star cheerleading.

First off, the ruling at Quinnipiac University did not directly affect All Star Cheerleading in any way.  There are no Title IX rules or definitions related to All Star cheer that were changed as a result of this case.  The rules change process is underway for All Star at the USASF Regional meetings being held right now and will continue this fall to determine what rules or definitions will be voted upon in the spring and changed for summer 2011 through 2013.  These are some important points to understand about this ruling:

1.  This case was about whether the cheerleading at Quinnipiac University can be counted as a sport to meet Title IX requirements.  In other words, can they count these athletes for their ratio of female to male athletes for all sports at the university?  The judge did not say the team is not athletic, does not compete, or anything of that nature.

The specific statement the judge made included these elements:

  • College Cheerleading has the all the makings of being an emerging sport but it is not there yet
  • College Cheerleading does not have an organized competition system
  • College Cheerleading does not yet have a widely accepted governing body

2.  Remember this is all about college.  There are two indirect impacts this has on us as All Star cheer parents.  How will this affect the college athletes at my gym right now who are on the open level teams?   How will this change college opportunities for our children if they are hoping to continue cheer  after high school?  The answers to both of these questions remain to be seen.  At the moment various teams across the country have announced that they are not changing their programs.  A major future impact will be how the college teams decide to organize themselves into a single format and governing body that eventually gets recognized by the NCAA.

Hopefully you understand the case a little bit better so you can be objective and more informed when you read the next news article claiming that a judge ruled that all of cheerleading is not a sport.  So what can we as parents do to be informed as the next changes to cheerleading happen around us?  Here is a short list to start you off:

  1. Keep reinforcing the positive aspects of cheerleading to your child.  It is athletic, there is lots of competition and there are lots of other disciplined, positive, motivated, and goal oriented children for them to be around.
  2. Continue to answer your child’s questions about this case to keep it factual and un-emotional.  You can explain to them the difference between the case, articles written by non-cheerleaders, and what he or she knows is true.  You might even be able to teach a lesson about controlling rumors.
  3. Join the USASF.  Your child can be a member of the USASF and be a part of the governing body for All Star.  Your membership will support the governing body continuing to make things better for the sport as a whole.

I hope this helps you understand this case  a little bit better as well as give you a few ideas on how you can support your child.  If you have any questions, keep reading, ask another parent or coach at your local gym, or contact any of the members of the Parent Action Committee and we’ll be happy to answer them for you.