Thursday, September 09, 2010

The cheerleaders are fighting!

Yes, I went for the cheap titillation with the not-so-accurate headline. But I am so very amused at the way this whole cheerleading; sport or not? thing has gone down since the ruling earlier in the summer in the Quinnipiac case. Every week since the ruling (that said only that the Quinnipiac competitive cheer team could not be counted as a sport for the purpose of Title IX) I have seen many, many stories, editorials, rants and tears about whether cheerleading is or is not a sport.
Thankfully this week there are new headlines, like this one from the NYT: Group to Create Sport of Stunt. It's just a blurb about how USA Cheer is working in collaboration with 15 college cheer programs to create the sport of stunt. This announcement, the blurb notes, comes just a week after USA Gymnastics announced it was partnering with the 6 current varsity intercollegiate cheer teams to create team acrobatics and tumbling. Oh, but there has to be more to this than the blurb is letting on, I said to myself.
Indeed. According to the more extensive AP article, USA Gymnastics is working with the organization that was created right around the time that Quinnipiac created intercollegiate competitive cheer--coincidence I am told. The National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association, whose governing board includes the QU athletic director according to his own testimony in the trial, joined forces with USA Gymnastics to create sanctioned events (following USA Gymnastics rules and regs) in an attempt to get the NCAA to recognize them as an emerging sport which would, they hope, allow schools to count it toward Title IX participation requirements.
And now NCATA is pissed that USA Cheer which, through its many subsidiaries and/or parent organizations/corporations, has its hand in everything cheerleading in this country has decided to create stunt. USA Cheer is working with competitive cheer club teams--not teams that have varsity status at their institution.
Looks like the format of the competitions will be similar. There will be a championship in both sports. (I assume there are two sports being created here since they have different names and all!)
But if I was part of the USA Cheer efforts*--like if I was a competitive cheerleader at one of the 15 schools involved--I would be ticked by this statement from NCATA president Renee Baumgartner (also Senior Women's Administrator at University of Oregon):
"Those club cheerleading teams are cheerleaders, and our young athletes are athletes, gymnasts, and there is a big difference between the two. There is a right way to do this and a wrong way. Perhaps some of these institutions are being misled."
Oh, snap--did she just call cheerleaders, just cheerleaders!
Let the schisming begin!
I'll be sitting on the sidelines for this one--commentating--not cheering.

* And if you heard any of the QU trial testimony--as I was lucky enough to--by cheerleading expert Jeff Webb, who sits on USA Cheer's board of directors, you would know that USA Cheer was indeed going to be making many efforts to get into this move to varsity cheerleading. There was no way they were going to sit back and let the NCATA move in on its (very profitable) territory.
Part of my amusement stems from NCATA's outrage that a for-profit association--or an association that is affiliated with a for-profit entity, Varsity Brands, is trying to get in on this cheerleading as sport action. Give me a break. Chik-fil-A just sponsored a kick-off game--kick-off game, not even a bowl game--between LSU and UNC. Capital One has created a trophy for the best performing DI school during one academic year. Corporate money is all over collegiate sport so ditch the holier-than-thou attitude. Cheerleading, or stunt, or tumbling and acrobatics will not be immune.


Anonymous said...

Ken is an idiot.

The NCATA has done what NO ONE ELSE HAS DONE! Varsity Brands, NCA, USA Cheer....they all worked hard to prevent competitive cheerleading from becoming a sport. As an activity, they could regulate and control it. Control equals power equals money!
Why is it so hard for everyone to appreciate that 6 universities independently recognized the millions of athletes in this sport crying out to be trained safer, coached safer and recognized as a sport?
Those 6 schools did what NO ONE has done (except MI high school athletics). They created a true sport that evolved from cheer. Because of TItle IX and the NCAA, they fit the sport into the mold of an NCAA sport. They have aligned with USA Gymnastics to bolster their foundation and recognize the sister-sport that is so intricately a part of Acrobatics and Tumbling. These 6 schools originated and developed this new sport in order to provide new opportunities for women and meet the interests of the young women who have clearly made it one of the top 10 sports in high school amongst girls.
So DUH! Why wouldn't they be pissed when USA Cheer/Varsity comes in and copies the whole effort they fought for years and most recently in the QU case (jeff, expert whitness against cheer). Why wouldn't the group be aggravated by all the criticism they are getting rather than support when they are going to make this an NCAA sport.
Knowing Renee, what she meant was that NCATA schools' participants are on Varsity Intercollegiate athletic teams and all administrators refer to those kids as athletes. It was just terminology. She was trying to make the distinction between NCAA certified participants and student organization/recreational sport club participants. As the president of the NCATA, Renee recognized the abilities of cheer athletes and put her credibility on the line to bring the sport to Oregon.
I'll be the first to criticize the NCATA about not giving us more of the who what when where and why behind all their efforts and organization. But I also can appreciate and respect that they stand alone in the development of this sport for the good of athletes and the sport itself. That advocacy is reflected in the mission of the NCAA and the purpose of TItle IX. The merits of the sport and the value of the opportunities it provides are the singular and inevitable keys that will unlock the door to the NCAA.

Don't hate.... appreciate!

Anonymous said...

And what is Renee's motive?
Power and money.
She made her coach write this to save her job.

Anonymous said...

Just pointing out that the comment about Renee's motives being power or money did not come from the first anonymous response to "Ken" (Kristine Newhall of the Title IX blog). This site does not distinguish between anonymous responders so everyone who doesn't use an official name is given the "anonymous" option.

In fact, Kristine Newhall seems to have an agenda against competitive cheer to begin with. Most of the women who are recognized as authorities or experts on Title IX and women's advocacy seem to be in a small group that is intricately connected. In some shape form or fashion they seem to have all worked with, under or together and extend influence into the Women's Sports Foundation, Office of Civil Rights, NCAA, Sports Management Resources, Sports Law Associates and various women's publications such as the Title IX blog. The list of names inlcudes people like Donna Lopiano, Karen Morrison, Terri Lakowski, Janet Judge and Nancy Hogshead Makar amongst others. A group of women so influential when it comes to Title IX, NCAA (women's sports) and women's advocacy that if they don't like your sport..... well I will leave the result for you to figure out. By the way, they never wanted cheerleading to be a sport. Its no wonder the NCATA is being roadblocked at every chance and the for-profit copy of the sport is gaining these people's support. I guess money talks.

So the next time you hear criticism about the motives of anyone involved witht the 6 institutions of the NCATA, ask yourself, what have they given (they invested in starting a new sport and invested millions in sponsoring teams/scholarships). What has USA Cheer given? Last time I checked, not one single dime was given in scholarship money.

As per Ken/Kristine's original post about this sport not being immune to one NCAA sport that a private for profit company tries to create a sport, govern it and administer it. There isn't one, they are called SPONSORS. Chic-A-Filet sponsors a game, they don't govern it. Perhaps that was a statement to justify that cheerleading money has been doing all the talking in this fight.