I'm a child of the seventies, and I freely admit that, during fifth grade, my career goal was to become a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader. Sadly, my cheering career ended in eighth grade (I still recall that my 1981 pom poms were about ten times the size of today's tiny pom poms). But I've always had a lingering fascination with cheerleading (see this earlier post), and I love it when cheerleading and the law intersect, like in today's story on Inside Higher Ed, "But I'm An Athlete." Women volleyball players and their coach have sued Quinnipiac University following the university's decision to eliminate the women's volleyball team and substitute it with a varsity competitive cheerleading squad. The case has triggered intense discussions in higher ed circles about whether cheerleading can be classified as a "sport" under Title IX.
According to the story, higher ed institutions haven't received much specific guidance on the cheerleading issue from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, other than this guidance letter identifying generic factors to consider in ascertaining whether any activity can be classified as a "sport" under Title IX. It will be interesting to see how the Quinnipiac litigation turns out and whether the federal government takes an official stance on cheering as a competitive sport.