Yes, I went for the cheap titillation with the not-so-accurate headline. But I am so very amused at the way this whole cheerleading; sport or not? thing has gone down since the ruling earlier in the summer in the Quinnipiac case. Every week since the ruling (that said only that the Quinnipiac competitive cheer team could not be counted as a sport for the purpose of Title IX) I have seen many, many stories, editorials, rants and tears about whether cheerleading is or is not a sport.
Thankfully this week there are new headlines, like this one from the NYT: Group to Create Sport of Stunt. It’s just a blurb about how USA Cheer is working in collaboration with 15 college cheer programs to create the sport of stunt. This announcement, the blurb notes, comes just a week after USA Gymnastics announced it was partnering with the 6 current varsity intercollegiate cheer teams to create team acrobatics and tumbling. Oh, but there has to be more to this than the blurb is letting on, I said to myself.
Indeed. According to the more extensive AP article, USA Gymnastics is working with the organization that was created right around the time that Quinnipiac created intercollegiate competitive cheer–coincidence I am told. The National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association, whose governing board includes the QU athletic director according to his own testimony in the trial, joined forces with USA Gymnastics to create sanctioned events (following USA Gymnastics rules and regs) in an attempt to get the NCAA to recognize them as an emerging sport which would, they hope, allow schools to count it toward Title IX participation requirements.
And now NCATA is pissed that USA Cheer which, through its many subsidiaries and/or parent organizations/corporations, has its hand in everything cheerleading in this country has decided to create stunt. USA Cheer is working with competitive cheer club teams–not teams that have varsity status at their institution.
Looks like the format of the competitions will be similar. There will be a championship in both sports. (I assume there are two sports being created here since they have different names and all!)
But if I was part of the USA Cheer efforts*–like if I was a competitive cheerleader at one of the 15 schools involved–I would be ticked by this statement from NCATA president Renee Baumgartner (also Senior Women’s Administrator at University of Oregon):
“Those club cheerleading teams are cheerleaders, and our young athletes are athletes, gymnasts, and there is a big difference between the two. There is a right way to do this and a wrong way. Perhaps some of these institutions are being misled.”
Oh, snap–did she just call cheerleaders, just cheerleaders!
Let the schisming begin!
I’ll be sitting on the sidelines for this one–commentating–not cheering.
* And if you heard any of the QU trial testimony–as I was lucky enough to–by cheerleading expert Jeff Webb, who sits on USA Cheer’s board of directors, you would know that USA Cheer was indeed going to be making many efforts to get into this move to varsity cheerleading. There was no way they were going to sit back and let the NCATA move in on its (very profitable) territory.
Part of my amusement stems from NCATA’s outrage that a for-profit association–or an association that is affiliated with a for-profit entity, Varsity Brands, is trying to get in on this cheerleading as sport action. Give me a break. Chik-fil-A just sponsored a kick-off game–kick-off game, not even a bowl game–between LSU and UNC. Capital One has created a trophy for the best performing DI school during one academic year. Corporate money is all over collegiate sport so ditch the holier-than-thou attitude. Cheerleading, or stunt, or tumbling and acrobatics will not be immune.