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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Will Title IX kill cheerleading?

Interesting story in The Times the other day about Title IX, the federal law requiring equal treatment of men's and women's (and boys' and girls') sports. In New York, they're interpreting that to mean that high schools who have cheerleaders at the boys' basketball games must also have them at girls' basketball games. The resulting additional burden on the cheerleaders, and their reduced travel to other schools for away games, have made cheerleading a less popular activity at some schools.

The Mrs., who used to cheerlead for her schools instead of for me and the kids, as she does today, has a solution: separate cheerleading squads for the male and female sports teams. Sure, being one of the boys' cheerleaders will be perceived as a greater honor, but the girls' cheerleaders will still field teams, as they'll be seen as a consolation prize for the girls who can't make the cut for the boys' cheerleader team. And they can all get to travel to other schools without wearing themselves out.

Of course, twice the teams means twice the budget, and that's another story. But then again I suppose nobody said Title IX was going to be cheap.

Comments (10)

the original complaint — two in Elmira, N.Y., and one in Horseheads...

Horseheads...now there's a town name (and unrelatedely, a rush of memories, as that's where my Dad went to teach after resigning as Assistant Superintendant of Schools in Wayne, New Jersey --another great name-- after he ran off with his secretary he dumped my Mom for).

My daughter was a cheerleader, which meant I went to way more boring high school football games then I care to remember. But the girls cheering for boys seems to make sense. How about BOY cheerleading squads doing it for the girls' teams? Seems fair?

"Separate but Equal" cheerleading squads?

Separate But Equal isn't Equal.

As a former high school boy cheerleader myself (it was an all-boys school), I think having boy squads cheering for girl teams is a great idea.

However, we must be very careful, as some of the boys on pep squads do develop drug problems that severely impair their reasoning skills for life.

I was a girl athelete before title IX, and literally we ran the team on bake sales, and other two-bit fundraisers. My HS was state champs two of the three years, but looking back in the scheme of things there were a lot of good things that came out of not being funded or having any priority. For one I got my drivers license. My parents were really strict, and my brothers didn't get thier license until they had graduated from high school, it took one season of 6AM Saturday morning swim practices at the old pool in downtown (Dad had to get up at 5AM to drive me and sit in the car for 90 minutes waiting for us to swim and dry our hair) and Dad not only signed for my drivers license but paid for Drivers Ed that summer and a tutor to help me learn to paralell park so I would get my license in time for the next season. When I went to college we didn't have a team we had a club, and had to earn all our own funding. We taught swim lessons and carpooled to meets in the tri-state area, a couple of loyal boyfriends but no male cheerleaders. We did get to ride with the boys team once, to Yale where our coach had arranged a dual meet, while the guys stayed in the hotel we stayed in bunk beds in an large minimally heated room over the Yale sculls. Other times we would share the dorm rooms of the opposing girls teams, I remember splitting the box springs from the mattress and we would sleep in the floor of the competitive team's dorm room. We never got to ride on the boys team bus again thought because we won and they lost and their coach said we were a distraction and that's why they lost.

The pinhead who interpreted the law in this way is ... well a pinhead. Sorry, another bad interpretation of a well intended law.

Just my two cents.

So what does the "A" signify on GWB's sweater?

Don't go there.

We have a friend who is a varsity rower at Clemson (graduated from high school in Vancouver, WA and learned to row as part of the athletics offerings there). She says the rowers are big supporters of the Clemson football team, because without football there would be no varsity women's rowing. Men's rowing is not a varsity sport there; the women get scholarships to meet Title IX. So evidently, as long as it evens out, it doesn't have to be exactly the same.

Plus, there are two functions of cheerleading. Cheerleading, the competitive sport, is not the same as cheerleading, rah rah at other teams' games. Wilson High School's cheerleading squad placed 5th in the nation in 2005. Their competition routine, performed once at halftime at a boys' basketball game, was very different from the in-game "we want another one, just like the other one, in... the... hoop!"-type crowd-rallying cheers. There are competitions for mixed squads, where boys do the lifts and cheers as well as girls. Equating cheering at other sports with the competitive sport of cheerleading misses the purpose of cheerleading as an independent athletic pursuit.

Jack, I'm not sure that your solution would fly in the courts. You're sending a de facto JV cheer team to the girls' games, and if I were the judge, I'd view that as unequal.

Of course, if I were the parent of a girl hoopster, I'd like to think I'd have a few dozen more important things to do than to sue over the presence/absence of cheerleaders at the game.

If I were the coach of the girls' sports team that's being cheered for, I'd rather have the resources that are being spent on the cheerleaders placed at my own discretion, to spend on other things.

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