Is Competitive Cheerleading a Sport?

Last Updated on June 5, 2014

Guest author: Christian Dennie, Esq.

A court has ruled it is not. At least not for Title IX purposes. Yet.

The District Court found that competitive cheerleading is not a sport and the 30 roster positions could not be counted under Title IX because the activity did not “yet” afford participation opportunity of a varsity “sport.”  Further, the District Court observed the NCAA does not recognize competitive cheerleading as a “sport” or an “emerging sport.”  The District Court carefully analyzed the record and indicated competitive cheerleading is similar to a sport in some respects and different in others.  The District Court concluded that the following are similar to other sports: 1) team’s operating budget, benefits, services, and coaching staff were structured and administered by the Quinnipiac athletic department; 2) the length of the season and minimum number of competitions; 3) governed by an athletic organization (i.e., National Competitive Stunt and Tumbling Association); and 4) the purpose of the team was to compete athletically against other intercollegiate varsity level teams.

On the other hand, the District Court found the following differences: 1) Quinnipiac did not provide locker space for competitive cheerleading team members; 2) the team members did not receive NCAA catastrophic injury insurance because it is not an NCAA recognized sport; 3) Quinnipiac did not and could not conduct off-campus recruitment for its competitive cheerleading team; 4) there were no uniform set of rules applied to competitive cheerleading competitions; 5) Quinnipiac competed against a “motley assortment of competitors” including varsity intercollegiate cheerleading teams, collegiate club teams, high school age competitors, and all-star opponents; and 6) there was no progressive playoff system leading to a championship game.

In reviewing the totality of the circumstances, the District Court concluded that Quinnipiac’s competitive cheerleading team did not compete in circumstances indicative of varsity sports.  Thus, the District Court ruled and the Second Circuit affirmed that the 30 roster positions for competitive cheerleading members could not be counted for Title IX purposes because the activity did not “yet” afford women genuine participation opportunities in a varsity sport.

You can read the full details of the case here.

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  • Corri Wilson
    August 17, 2012

    Hello. Since this case occurred back in 2010, I am interested to know what has changed or emerged to bring it to the forefront again. Thank you.

  • Cynintae Harris
    October 11, 2012

    The qualifications that determine whether or not cheering is a sport are completely irrevelant. A sport should be defined by the work ad practice and effort that a team or member of a team attributes to further their success is what SHOULD matter. Our society has gotten so caught up in only recognizing things that make them look better that they disregard those that actually ha e to do more work to accomplish a set goal. Cheerleading takes just as much planning, money, and practice as any other sport and the members are just as, if not more, dedicated. I am extremely offending by this ruling and feel its a shame that cheerleaders aren’t recognized for their hard work and dedication.

  • Ava
    November 18, 2012

    Well I think it is because I do it so make is a sport

  • Katie
    December 15, 2012

    You say its not a sport…? How about you try holding people twice the size as you, fliping twice as fast as you walk, you try being yelled and pushed through the pain of being know as the state nationals, go through the jumps and dances that cant be off by a 1/4 count, then tell me if you think cheerleading is a sprort, i work my ass off to conpete so hard to win, and your telling me its not an sport…

  • kaitlin
    January 7, 2013

    Whoever made this has clearly never been to a single competition or has never visited the official website for competition cheer and dance every point made to try and prove competition cheerleading as not a sport is un-true.We get locker space, we have injury insurance, we can conduct off campus, there are countless rules on what you can and cannot do, there are also rules on who we compete against, and the whole point of competing is so you can get a bid for worlds! Which in your case is called a championship. Therefor this article has just been proven wrong.

  • Kristi Dosh
    February 4, 2013

    Just to clarify for those leaving comments…no one on this site is giving an opinion about cheerleading as a sport. The point of the post is that the NCAA does not recognize cheerleading as a sport.