July 27 2010
Sportswriter Wendy Parker has an interesting piece on the fallout over the recent Title IX court case at Quinnipiac University. (Background on the case here and here. Background on Title IX here and here.) In short: the school cut several sports teams, an initial lawsuit saw the women's sports saved but the men's teams got the boot, and, most interestingly, the judge was asked to rule if competitive cheerleading counts as a sport for Title IX purposes. The judge, Stefan Underhill, ruled that competitive cheerleading cannot be considered as a sport as it is "too underdeveloped." The notion that competitive cheerleading should count as a sport is something that IWF has supported for years, for reference.
As Parker points out in her post, the verdict has unfortunately led to some nasty comments from the Title IX lobby directed at cheerleaders:
Title IX activists are - ahem - cheering loudly, thrilled that a traditionally feminine activity that doesn't fit their ideal of women's athletic competition isn't getting sanctioned. Former Women's Sports Foundation President Nancy Hogshead-Makar, an Olympic swimming champion and now the organization's legal adviser, demonstrated all the characteristics of a poor winner:
"I would hate to see viable sports that lead to Olympic possibilities, international opportunities, thwarted in favour of a sport that doesn't lead to any of those."
I thought the purpose of Title IX was to enable females to participate, regardless of their skill levels and athletic ambitions. I'm not sure I consider cheerleading a sport either, but this question never would have arisen had a women's team not been dropped. Women's activists have not lost a major Title IX case for the better part of two decades now, and they tend to get very indignant when anyone challenges their orthodoxy. The dismayed Quinnipiac cheerleading coach discovered how sharp those elbows can be:
"I think what offends cheerleaders more than anything is other women degrading them and knocking what they do."
There are plenty of other barbs in Parker's post that are worth checking out. And as far as the Olympic comment goes, I've never seen that type of concern from the Women's Sports Foundation when men's Olympic programs like wrestling and gymnastics get cut. Unfortunately, these comments do not come as a surprise to me or anyone else who is used to dealing with the Title IX lobby. Our friends over at Savings Sports compiled a collection of choice quotes from Title IX activists awhile back and it's worth giving another look in light of the current controversy. In short, men on cut sports teams need to "get over it" and the movie Rudy (for my money the most uplifting sports movie of all time) has a bad message because men shouldn't be trying to walk on to athletic teams (which is harder and harder to do in the Title IX era) they should be pursuing other activities like theater. As Wendy Parker says, it's impossible to make this stuff up.