Because all the more serious civil liberties problems have been fixed

by Walter Olson on August 19, 2012

Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as part of a wider campaign to pursue maximally feminist interpretations of Title IX, successfully litigate to prevent Quinnipiac University from naming competitive cheer as a varsity sport [American Sports Council "Saving Sports"] More: Richard Epstein on Title IX; background.

{ 19 comments }

1 Richard Nieporent 08.19.12 at 12:57 pm

After the Supreme Court ridiculous decision on what constitutes the rules of golf that did not end up helping the plaintiff, Casey Martin, compete on the PGA circuit (I am only surprised that they did not mandate a 5 shot handicap – after all wouldn’t that be an appropriate ADA accommodation for his handicap?), you would hope that the Courts would have learned their lesson and refrained from getting involved in sports. But alas that is not the case. The courts have now ruled that competitive cheerleading is not a sport. (Maybe in their spare time they can go through the list of Olympic Sports to remove the ones that don’t appeal to them). But of course the real reason is not that they are so delusional as to think that they know what constitutes a sport, but rather to further the agenda of feminist fanatics that want to prevent men from competing in sports. Given the fact that women are now approximately 60% of undergraduates and due to the way Title IX has been interpreted by the courts, 60% of college athletes will have to be female. Unfortunately rather than getting more women to join teams, the Court has sanctioned the procrustean solution of eliminating men’s teams to get the percentages right. Yes that will teach all of those males a lesson for being so sexist as to want to play sports more that women.

2 Reuven 08.19.12 at 1:38 pm

I also find it offensive that they feel that “cheerleading” isn’t a sport. (And things like “racewalking” are?)

3 boblipton 08.19.12 at 2:56 pm

Can we get them to kick out synchronized swimming from the list of sports?

Bob

4 Ron Miller 08.20.12 at 9:59 am

You find it offensive that cheerleading is not considered a sport? Offensive? Please.

Cheering is hard and dangerous. It requires great skill. It is also not a sport. It has no impact on the game. They don’t even watch the game. The main purpose of cheerleading – notwithstanding the new trend to have cheerleading competitions – is to cheer on players playing sports.

I have nothing really against cheerleading although I don’t want my daughter to be cheering on the boys – I’d rather her play. But just don’t be offended someone disagreeing as to whether it is a sport.

(And, yes, I realize less athletic activities are hard to characterize as sports. But at least they have a scoring system and winners and losers as a function of their primary activity.)

5 wfjag 08.20.12 at 4:22 pm

@RM: The Encarta Dictionary defines “Sport” as:
“1. competitive physical activity

an individual or group competitive activity involving physical exertion or skill, governed by rules, and sometimes engaged in professionally”

Cheerleading meets that definition. And, there are competitions, which are scored and in which there are winners and losers. And, as far as having an audience, no one watches Badmitton (other than the parents and close friends of the players), but, that is played at the Olympics, and cheerleading involves much more physical exertion than Badmitton – or quite a few other activities that are recognized as sports. Further, it is one of the few organized activities in which men and women can compete as members of the same team. Equistrian activities are the only other events that I am aware of in which that is also true. Finally, Cheerleading certainly isn’t as cheese-cakee or involve wearing constumes as skimpy as Beach Vollyball (another Olympic sport).

Accordingly, I don’t understand either your objection to concluding that it is a sport, or why you wouldn’t let your daughter compete in it?

6 Jim Collins 08.20.12 at 4:51 pm

If what competitive cheer-leading has become isn’t a sport, they need to take a long look at gymnastics being a sport as well.

7 Rob 08.20.12 at 5:15 pm

My own little rule about what constitutes a “sport”: if it is based on objective criteria, it’s a sport; if it’s based on subjective judging, it’s an “athletic competition”, not a sport. Speed skating? A sport. Figure skating? Not a sport. Gymnastics? Not a sport. Swimming is a sport, but diving is not.

Competitive cheerleading, while requiring great athleticism and skill, unless the winner is chosen by “who can throw the girl the highest”, is not a sport.

8 gitarcarver 08.20.12 at 6:31 pm

wfjag,

Please allow me to address some of your points:

1) There really isn’t a set or universally recognized rules for cheerleading. That is part of the problem. Currently the NCAA does not sanction cheerleading as a sport. The two ruling bodies the NCA and the AACCA are in a fight for control of the rules. At best, one can see cheerleading in its present and current form to be no better than a “club team” which does not count toward Title IX requirements.

2) While you may assert that no one watches badminton, it is very popular in Asia. The Olympics reviews sports to make sure they are growing and the inclusion of the sport in the Olympics is evidence the sport is far more popular than you allow.

3) I am sorry to say that you are wrong on badminton taking less exertion than competitive cheerleading. A routine in cheerleading is limited to 135 seconds (both sets of rules agree on the time limit.) I don’t think anyone would believe that the amount of energy expended in a 2 minute plus routine is anywhere near that exerted by badminton players.

I agree that it is ridiculous not to want a kid to participate in cheerleading if the kid enjoys it, it is safe, and the parents see a benefit for their child.

Lastly, I don’t think that competitive cheerleading is ready at this moment in time to be a recognized sport for the purpose of Title IX. The rules and sanctioning bodies need to be developed more. That is not to say those developments will not take place within the next five years. It is just to say that it is not ready now.

9 Melvin H. 08.20.12 at 9:13 pm

“What is a sport?” has been a ongoing debate for a long time and likely will continue, especially if the (insane) idea that Title IX also applies to high school and junior-high/middle-school sports tries to be enforced.

10 Richard Nieporent 08.20.12 at 9:31 pm

Gitarcarver, this is not an argument about the rules. If competitive cheerleading was accepted as a sport then more men could be playing sports without violating Title IX at no additional cost to the colleges. That is not something that the radical feminists want to happen. Hence the insistence that cheerleading is not a sport.

11 gitarcarver 08.20.12 at 11:54 pm

Mr Nieporant,

I know it is not about “rules” per se. It is, however, about how the NCAA classifies and comes to the conclusion on what is a sport. Part of that decision is a well established set of rule. The original judge’s decision cited that lack of standardized rules as part of the basis of his decision to say competitive cheerleading is not a sport.

Yet.

There were other reasons as well, including the general lack of competing against other schools or schools within a conference except at national competitions.

I can’t state whether this was an issue on which radical feminists were forcing.

I do know, however, that the judge found the qualifications for competitive cheerleading to be a sport to be lacking at this time. I happen to agree with him.

12 Ron Miller 08.21.12 at 9:48 am

I never said I would not let my daughter be a cheerleader. This stuff is all written down, you just can’t make up what someone said. There is a record.

I just said I really hope she would make a different choice.

I don’t think cheerleading is a sport. But, really, it is such a semantic argument. If there was not a Title IX issue involved, who would care how it is characterized?

13 wfjag 08.21.12 at 2:03 pm

@gitarcarver:
Thank you for the well thought-out response.

Your first reason is the most convincing. Until there is more standardization of the rules, cheerleading isn’t likely to be formally recognized as a sport. That would include rules followed both in the US, and elsewhere such as Australia, where it has caught on. However, as there are collegiate level competitions, this doesn’t appear to be an insurmountable problem.

As to your second reason, I am aware that badminton is widely played and a popular participation sport in Asia. However, it doesn’t seem to have much following as a spectator event. Do you have evidence to the contrary? There are any number of athletic events that are popular to engage in which are not especially popular spectator events –kayaking , canoeing (both Olympic events), racquetball and squash (both not Olympic events). In terms of popularity in nations where they are played, racquetball and squash may be as popular as a participant events as badminton is in the Asian nations in which it is popular. So, I’m not sure that inclusion as an Olympic event is strong evidence of popularity, and certainly not evidence of being a popular spectator sport. Rather, in addition to a certain level of regional popularity, political support is needed (something racquetball and squash appear to lack).

Cheerleading also may lack political support. It is hard to imagine a politician or civic leader publicly saying that he supports scantily clad women in short skirts and wonder bras going for the Gold for the USA by bouncing around on the world’s stage. (Then again, as illustrated by the V.P. and by the Republican nominee for US Senate in Missouri, you can’t predict what a politician will actually say when the teleprompter is turned off).

I disagree with your third reason. While most cheerleading routines are around 2 minutes, those are times of intense exertion. While there are bursts of aerobic exertion in badminton (or any other athletic event), few require the high level of cardiovascular fitness shown by a top cheerleading team performing a well choreographed and practiced routine.

Personally, I would like to see cheerleading recognized as a sport for Title IX purposes. Although at the collegiate level the participants are primarily women, it would still be one of the few endeavors in which both men and women would be on the same team. Next, it can probably pay for itself. For example, the University of Kentucky’s cheerleading squad has won repeated National Cheerleading Assoc. championships, appears to generate enough revenue to support itself, and through the athletic department, cheerleading scholarships are offered (so apparently the UK Athletic Dept. can do more than recruit next years’ top five NBA draftees). If a main purpose of Title IX is to increase the opportunities for student athletes to attend college, then recognizing cheerleading as a sport appears to be a better approach than forcing colleges to eliminate sports programs to maintain a quota based on the ratio of male/female enrollment. And, if someday, USA cheerleaders are going for the Gold while wearing short skirts and wonder bras, I will be as likely to turn off the TV as I am now when women’s beach volley ball is being televised.

14 Benji 08.21.12 at 2:29 pm

@Rob (#7): Generally I agree with your definition. Although it breaks down when applied to boxing. I don’t think anyone can argue that boxing isn’t a sport, but the winner (barring a KO) is decided by judges scoring the rounds.
(Olympic boxing would fit your definition, but is arguably a worse method – a fighter who does very well in the first round can go all-out defensively in later rounds and win. This would be penalized in professional boxing.)
OT: Cheering is silly, but does require athleticism. Also, gymnastics is expensive and not widely available, so cheering is the next best thing for some students who otherwise wouldn’t have any appealing athletic activity to take part in.

15 gitarcarver 08.21.12 at 4:30 pm

wfjag,

Thanks for your response.

As we agree on the first point, I’ll go right to the second point on badminton as a spectator sport. I have found a couple of references but because this site doesn’t like a whole lot of links (which is understandable) I can’t include them. Please trust me that I am not making this up.

The SkySports site for the Olympics says of badminton “Claiming to be the world’s fastest racket sport, badminton is without doubt a hugely exciting spectator sport and is regularly watched by crowds of five figures in Asia. “ I acknowledge that could be anywhere from 10,000 t0 99,999 people but it seems that even 10k people watching matches live is a pretty good number. The US Badminton Association makes the claim “The sport of badminton is currently the second most popular spectator sport in the world behind soccer.”

To be honest with you, the numbers and claims shocked me. I have a feeling this is due to my bias of thinking “nice sport played at picnics” even after watching competitive badminton.

As to the third reason, we are simply going to have to disagree. Yes, badminton does require short bursts of energy, but the total time of the energy spent is more than 2 minutes as well as the fact that the body never fully recovers to a resting state between points.

I would be against cheerleading as a sport because fundamentally, I am against any “judged” competition being a “sport.” As a take off on the Olympic theme of “higher, farther, faster,” all of those are measured athlete vs athlete as compared to judging which is highly subjective. I have watched some competitive cheerleading and have seen teams docked because the judge didn’t like the music.

That’s nuts.

It is also a problem that codifying rules will solve.

I guess my point is that if you are going to allow judged competitions to be classified as a “sport,” I don’t see why competitive cheerleading can’t be included. However, at this time, I don’t think the sport is ready for that designation.

It may be in the future, but not now.

Finally, as I remember the Quinnipiac University decision, there did seem to be a little bit of messing with the numbers to fill Title IX requirements.

As I said, I think the judge got this one right – for now.

16 wfjag 08.21.12 at 5:53 pm

@ gitarcarver
“The sport of badminton is currently the second most popular spectator sport in the world behind soccer.”

Dang! If true, that’s a lot of folks. I wonder if there are badminton hooligans?

17 wfjag 08.22.12 at 12:30 pm

“As I said, I think the judge got this one right – for now.”

Concur. I believe the the Judge correctly intrepreted Title IX. However, increasingly there appear to be unanticipated consequences of the statutory language that appear to contradict the purpose of increasing the opportunities for women and men to participate in college sports. Still, it is Congress’ job, not the Courts, to remedy such problems.

.

18 gitarcarver 08.22.12 at 1:19 pm

wfjag,

First, thanks for an interesting discussion. I appreciate the tone and tenor of the exchange.

Secondly, I just want to point out that Title IX applies to high schools and lower schools as well. It is a legislation that has expanded in scope far beyond what its original intent was.

For example, one of the local high schools in the area wanted to start a club lacrosse team. Because of budgets, the school and the school board could not fund the program within the school, so the kids formed a “club team” that would represent the school. This is allowed by the state rules. Furthermore, because not all of the local high school were playing lacrosse (even on the club level) the team wanted to play teams within an established league of religious schools. The team’s schedule would be a mix of out of league schools and other public school club teams.

After initial approval, the kids and their parents started to raise money to pay for equipment, insurance, transportation, referees, etc.

As they were getting ready to start paying out the money they had raised, the local school board attorney told them they had to provide for a female lacrosse team as well. At the very least, part of the monies raised by the kids and their parents had to go to the women – even though there was no apparent interest in a woman’s team. The view was confirmed and later codified by the FHSAA )the Florida high school sports governing body.)

That’s nuts.

19 wfjag 08.23.12 at 12:12 pm

@gitarcarver:
I’ve enjoyed it too, and learned some. I knew that Title IX applies at all levels, but haven’t personally seen many adverse effects at the H.S. level.

Locally, usually the H.S. sports with significant capital outlay (i.e., basketball – gyms and football – locker rooms, field and stadium) are included in the initial construction and maintenance costs. Other teams are organized around them. A track surrounds the football field for boys’ and girls’ track and either a girls locker room/shower area was included with the original construction or is an add-on the school board can fund; when girls’ basketball and volleyball teams are organized, they use the same practice and playing gyms (and girls’ lockers and showers were built for P.E. classes); when soccer (boys’ and girls’) organize, they start using the football practice field, and when there is enough interest, either that one is sodded and dedicated to soccer or a soccer field is graded and sodded and the practice field is used by both sports until the programs are separately big enough in participation to support funding separate facilities. When 3 girls wanted a cross country team, one of the boys’ track coaches laid out a practice course and he and a girls’ basketball coach split taking them to meets. One of the girls placed high at the state meet and got her picture and a nice article in the local paper. The next year some boys decided they wanted to run cross-country, and used the same course, and pretty soon it became a popular boys’ and girls’ sport, and spread to other local H.S.s (there are 4 public and a parochial in the county). The tennis teams started by playing on the courts at the public parks. After a few years, the school board fenced and properly paved/marked areas of the schools’ parking lots so there are now tennis courts at each H.S. A couple of the H.S.s (and one in an adjacent county) are organizing bowling teams (mixed teams), and one of the of the lanes is donating time (hoping that this will increase kids coming to bowl for recreation). This was an outgrowth of the Special Olympics Bowling — siblings and other students acting as peer helpers, who decided they liked bowling, and a couple of the Spec. Oly. Bowlers are still in school and are excellent bowlers (and may prove to be ringers for their H.S. teams for a few years). The golf teams use local courses (I believe they get significant discounted rates). However, the only swimming teams are through a local, private swimming club, so participation is limited to club members. Baseball and softball appear more to be league teams, and the school teams look more like they are organized off-season practice squads.

So, the way it seems to happen is some students decide they want a team, and find a sponsor (sometimes a teacher, sometimes a parent) and raise money for uniforms and equipment (or get donations), if there is sustained interest, a school team will emerge; and if not, then it goes away. Locally, lacrosse hasn’t caught on, and field hockey couldn’t compete against girls’ soccer, and boys’ soccer hasn’t done well against football, basketball, league baseball, and field and track. So far there haven’t been any federal or state mandates, which is probably why there appear to be reasonably active sports programs in all the local H.S.s. Also, the schools administration and school board have not fallen into the trap that all of the H.S.s have to have all the same sports programs. If there is interest and participation, it will be supported (although parents’ booster clubs, car washes, bake sales, etc., raise a lot of the money), and it appears that once a team catches on a one school, interest develops at other schools. Maybe we’re just been lucky. However, as my kids are all out of H.S. now, maybe things have changed and I just don’t know about it.

I’m fascinated by the idea of badminton as a mass spectator sport, rivaling soccer. When I think of soccer fans, I recall the hooligans who trash meets and riot police breaking it up. Somehow, I have trouble thinking of badminton as played by other than gentile English ladies in properly tailored, long dresses and hats. That’s why I asked about badminton hooligans — a line of properly attired, fashionable ladies streaming in an orderly manner onto the court, surrounding the players and making rude comments about the color coordination of the players’ outfits? When the riot police arrive to take control, the Chief will be heard on the bullhorn — “Mom, please return to your seat. You’re embarassing Poppie.”

Comments on this entry are closed.