Saturday, November 13, 2010

Should Cheerleading Be A Sport?

Posted by: Noel Jones

Chris Baxter's article in The Morning Call unveils a tempest that those of us without daughters at the high school might never have otherwise known of: there is apparently a cheerleading war on at Easton High School.

The controversy is over whether cheerleaders are supposed to just stand at the sidelines and cheer on the boys, or whether they are entitled to compete as a sport. Competitive cheerleading goes on nationally, and is physically intense--cheerleaders have to be great gymnasts to be able to compete. Check this video out to see what I mean. And you'll notice in the video, it's not just for girls.

This this debate has a lot of fine points: 1. Should girls that don't want to be gymnasts be excluded from cheering via athletically demanding tryouts? 2. Should girls who want to compete be considered a girls' athletic team? 3. If it's considered a sport, then it alleviates some Title IX tension that the high school has going by more readily funding more boys' team than girls'.  4. If cheerleading becomes a sport, does it take away the potential for some other girls' athletic team to be legitimized to satisfy Title IX? 5. What if boys want to be part of the competitive cheering team? Is it then a co-ed sport, and how would that fit into Title IX rules? Why can't the sideline cheerleaders just be considered part of the pep club, and let the athletic cheerleaders compete?

There also seems to be an issue in the article about sideline cheerleaders being forced to fundraise for competitive cheerleaders.

Kerry Myers, our school board member that heads the athletic committee, said in the article:

"Let me put this crystal clear: The first and only responsibility of the cheerleaders is the sideline and the baseline," Director Kerry Myers said Tuesday at a school board committee meeting. "If it's chauvinistic, I'll be chauvinistic. But this competition thing has gotten way out of control."

Wonderful. What year is this again--1952?

I would love to get readers' comments on this issue, but please be sure to watch the video first.


g_whiz said...

*facepalm* Ugh, never should any figure, public or otherwise, begin a statement with "if its chauvinstic, I'll be chauvinistic..." , Its the equivalent of fully admiting mindnumbing bias and being a little too comfortable doing so...

noel jones said...

agreed. and being that Meyers is black makes it all the sadder--i am forever naively hoping that members of one discriminated group will feel a kinship with other such groups, i.e., if someone doesn't think racism is fair, then why should sexism be ok?

carinne said...

It was my impression that Kerry Myers was speaking of the current role of our cheerleaders. The comment seemed to be in defense of the cheerleaders and parents who want that to be the cheerleader’s responsibility, but are forced into the competitive sport fundraising, cost, etc.
I think that the school needs to figure this one out considering all opinions of those involved. If there are a number of students who want their cheering to be a competitive team sport, different from what cheering has been in the past at EAHS, then consideration for title 9 and the budget issues need to be recognized. I would be surprised if any discussion was taken seriously for new teams, at a time when we are cutting sport programs due to the economy. Meanwhile, the current program should operate as it has, with the only responsibility being support from the sidelines. I don’t think it is chauvinistic to defend the girls who signed up for and want that role. If a majority of the cheerleaders DON’T want that to be there role, then they should be the ones to refuse to do anything but advocate for their official competitive team sport.
Kerry is more flawed in choosing his words/ statements than wrong over all...

noel jones said...

carinne, you may be right about word-choice vs. intention, but words are powerful, and public officials should understand that.

this is a really fascinating debate actually, because of Title IX implications...

Dennis R. Lieb said...


Don't worry,he isn't running for re-election. Probably why he now feels confident saying any damn thing he pleases.

The whole cheerleading competition industry/circus/fiasco is just another creation of ESPN sports The X-Games or "professional poker". If it wasn't for their need (greed?)to fill every second of empty air time between their over-produced live sports events and shlocky, inanely reported SportsCenter broadcasts (the progenitor of Kieth Olberman) it wouldn't even exist.

These kids have been exploited from day one to help boost the ratings of another Disney/ABC spawn of cable network hucksterism.

Kill your televisions.