In keeping with the sports-is-to-politics foul play analogy of my last post: Is cheerleading a sport and why should it matter?
And can we adults think that through logically and meaningfully, answer with integrity and fairness to all students both boys and girls, cheerleaders and football players or not, instead of competing like warlords to score the most money never mind the human or social costs, as the insurance companies do? My state’s high school athletic association apparently can’t —
. . .Cheerleading, you see, is deeply embroiled in gender politics, and given the demographics of college attendance, cheerleading is surely going to remain a flashpoint.
It all traces back to Title IX, the 1972 law which mandates that, in sports, athletic representation on campus must mirror student enrollment. . .
. . . the Florida High School Athletic Association wanted to make substantial reductions in all sports except two: football and cheerleading. . . by claiming that football, like cheerleading, was a co-ed sport because, of the thousands of football players in the state, three were girls.
Not surprisingly, this bizarre logic didn’t fly. A federal lawsuit forced the association to accept a settlement to apply cuts equally across the board to all sports. Most cheerleaders, of course, are female.
. . .two-thirds of all catastrophic injuries to females in high school and college occur in cheerleading.
And so, if cheerleading can be accepted as a legitimate sport instead of just as an “activity,” then colleges can eliminate another, more traditional, more expensive women’s sport. In this way, male-dominated athletic departments can — for at least a while longer — put off the inevitable addition of women’s sports.
This has put women’s sports leaders on the spot. On the one hand, they don’t want to denigrate cheerleaders. On the other hand, as Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a former head of the Women’s Sports Foundation, told me: “We can’t allow schools to recast cheerleading as a sport in name only so as to allow schools to provide fewer athletic opportunities for girls.”