Is Cheerleading a Sport?

Learn why a federal judge ruled that cheerleading is not a sport and why it matters in the first place.

Adam Freedman
February 24, 2012

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Today’s topic:  Rah, Rah, Federal Law!  Is cheerleading a sport? Learn what federal law has to say about cheerleading and why it matters to schools across the country.

And now, your daily dose of legalese:  This article does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader.  In other words, although I am a lawyer, I’m not your lawyer.  In fact, we barely know each other. If you need personalized legal advice, contact an attorney in your community.

The podcast edition of this article was sponsored by Go to Meeting.  With this meeting service, you can hold your meetings over the Internet and give presentations, product demos and training sessions right from your PC. For a free, 45 day trial, visit GoToMeeting.com click the try it free button and enter the code PODCAST.

Is Cheerleading a Sport?

A federal judge recently held that competitive cheerleading at the university level does not count as a “sport.”  Why does that matter? The quick and dirty answer is that the federal anti-discrimination law known as Title IX requires schools and universities to achieve roughly equal participation for men and women in “sports.”  This decision will change how some colleges comply with that law.

What Is Title IX?

Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 is designed to protect students from discrimination on the basis of sex.  The statute says that  “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” 

Title IX’s mandate applies to a wide range of programs at high schools and colleges including such things as admissions, recruitment, financial aid, academic programs, student treatment and services, counseling and guidance, discipline, classroom assignment, grading, and vocational education.   


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