In one of the strangest court battles Connecticut has seen in decades, jurors are now deciding whether cheerleading is a sport or not.
Cheerleaders began a century ago as a league of men who jumped up singing songs to cheer on their college football team. Nowadays, it has become something of its own: cheerleaders spend as much time (if not more) with national and international somersault competitions, as well as the usual animations of the men’s teams.
The discussion began when Quinnipiac University eliminated its women’s volleyball team in favor of cheerleaders. The move made it official: Cheerleading was a more important sport for the Hamden, Connecticut school.
Volleyball players didn’t take this lightly! The team filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming that remaining cheerleaders while hacking volleyball was done for cost-saving reasons. An 11-man volleyball team costs $ 20,000 more per year than the $ 50,000 budgeted for 40 cheerleaders.
Both teams are eagerly awaiting a verdict in the court case that began today with opening statements. Volleyball players hope Title 9 will back their reinstatement. Schools are required by law to provide equal opportunities for men and women to compete in sports that involve practice and organized competition supervised by coaches. Cheerleaders go against some age-old stereotypes to prove in this case that they are, in fact, their own independent sport. Volleyball players say a men’s team would never have been dismantled and they are fighting sexism in college.
Although Quinnipiac is a private school, they receive some public funding and are therefore subject to Title IX.