Federal court rules once and for all that cheerleading is not a real sport

Is cheerleading a sport? The question holds an eternal position in the pantheon of great sports debates, with advocates of both sides incredibly vocal about their beliefs.

High school cheerleaders compete at the McDonald's All-American Game — Getty
High school cheerleaders compete at the McDonald's All-American Game — Getty

Now there is an official response to that debate: Cheerleading is not a sport, at least in the opinion of the federal courts.

As reported by the Associated Press, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Hartford, ruled that Quinnipiac University's attempt to classify the school's cheerleading squad as a varsity team sport was not valid, because as of 2010 cheerleading did not reach "the level of a varsity sport." Quinnipiac's drive to have cheerleading declared a varsity sport was an open attempt to remain in compliance with Title IX regulations while eliminating the school's women's volleyball program.

Now, because of the 2nd Circuit Court's ruling, the Bobcats may have to bring a volleyball program back on board, though it may do so while also gaining the wrath of other female athletes everywhere.

Advocates who argue that cheerleading is as much a sport as football or baseball are quick to point to high school injury rates, which show more per capita injuries in cheerleading than in any sport outside football. For the record, Prep Rally has always been sympathetic with this view, with those injury rates only a small symptom of the larger competitive cheerleading circuit which has gained prevalence and even landed TV airtime on ESPN.

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In fact, there's practically a cheerleading-athletic complex akin to the mythological bridal-industrial complex, with dozens of companies making a fortune off catering solely to aspiring teen cheerleaders.

Naturally, that doesn't make cheerleading a sport in and of itself. The flips and tumbling routines would seem to do that. Don't tell that to the federal courts, though. Evidently they aren't hearing any of it.

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