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Cheerleading is Not a Sport, Federal Appeals Court Rules

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

A federal appeals court ruled that cheerleading is not a sport.

In an ironic twist, women cheer the decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as it means that Quinnipiac University in Connecticut discriminated against women when it replaced women's volleyball with cheerleading.

Though the court did find that someday, "with better organization" and "defined rules," cheerleading may achieve sport status, reports Reuters.

Members of the Quinnipiac's women's volleyball team brought suit following the university's decision to replace women's volleyball with competitive cheerleading during the 2009-10 season. The university justified the decision to cut volleyball by reasoning that it was replacing one women's sport with another.

Generally, Title IX is a chapter in the Equal Opportunity in Education Act that requires equal opportunities for men and women in school programs and activities. Today, Title IX is most commonly used in context with collegiate athletics as universities are required to maintain a roughly equal amount of men's and women's programs.

In maintaining this equality, Quinnipiac tried to categorize cheerleading as a varsity "sport" so that it could justifiably cut women's volleyball, while maintaining compliance with Title IX.

However, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals found that not just any activity could qualify as a sport under Title IX. The court was gentle with its ruling, acknowledging that cheerleading is "physically challenging" and requires "strength, agility and grace," reports Reuters. However, the court found other aspects of cheerleading lacking, such as the organization and rules of the activity, and concluded that cheerleading was not yet a sport.

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