NCAA to Decide Whether Cheerleaders Need Jockstraps

Nicole Fabian-Weber

cheerleaderIt's a timeless debate -- one I believe that began with our Founding Fathers -- is cheerleading a sport or an activity? Two groups, USA Cheer and the National Collegiate Athletics and Tumbling Association, are hoping to put this argument to long-overdue rest by asking the National Collegiate Athletic Association to recognize cheering as a sport once and for all. Ra Ra Sis Boom Ba!

The associations' arguments are, "Hey, cheerleaders are, like, way stronger than most 'regular athletes.' They train super hard, and can round-off, back handspring, back handspring back tuck like nobody's business."

This is a totally valid point, one that's hard to dispute -- save for the small fact that other sports don't center around ... cheering for other sports.

And it's because of that exact reason these two groups aren't just pushing to make cheerleading a sport, they're pushing to completely change the game -- including those iconic skirted uniforms.

There's no denying that cheerleaders are hardcore. They can do all sorts of crazy stuff football, baseball, and hockey players couldn't do combined. But, the reason it's not recognized as a sport -- and things like ice skating and gymnastics are -- is because cheerleaders aren't always competing, and when they are, there isn't a clear-cut, universal way of scoring. Or, as a judge ruled against Quinnipiac University last year, the activity is "too underdeveloped and disorganized" to be called a sport (which is also the reason the groups are rallying right now).

These two groups want to change things, though. They want to do away with cheering for other teams, ditch the risque skirts in exchange for (probably risque) volleyball player-type uniforms, even devise a set season, with eight regulation "games" and a championship tournament. That certainly sounds like a sport to me! Maybe they can even have a non-sport cheering squad on the side rooting for them! Though that may get a bit confusing.

If permanently doing away with the age-old sexist act of standing on the sidelines and rooting for the boys, I say make cheerleading a sport. The men and women of it have certainly proved themselves athletic. And it would also help universities comply with Title IX, the federal law that bans gender discrimination at educational institutions.

If cheerleading becomes a sport, though, what about dance? Dancers take part in competitions and demonstrate remarkable athleticism, as well. Guess they'll just have to wait for someone who is ready to start a crusade. Someone who is willing to be aggressive, B-E aggressive.

Do you think cheerleading should be a sport?


Image via mel_rowling/Flickr

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