Cheerleading is not a sport
For now, cheerleading is not a sport in Nevada high schools. This may change when the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association revisits the issue in a year.
Earlier this month the NIAA, which has jurisdiction over South Tahoe and Whittell high schools, concluded cheerleading is not a sport. However, it will require all cheerleading events be sanctioned by the NIAA.
This means the NIAA has final say over which competitions squads go to. It means the sponsors of the events must follow National Federation of High School Activity Association rules for the OK to be given.
This requirement goes into effect at the end of this school year.
This is being done as a safety measure. The NIAA began looking into making the predominately female activity a sport for safety reasons. Officials were concerned there was little oversight at meets.
We applaud the NIAA’s diligence in wanting to keep our students safe. Other guidelines it created for the groups mimic those that sports teams must abide by. However, they are voluntary.
The primary reason cheerleading was not deemed a sport is financial, according to NIAA Executive Director Jerry Hughes. People brought up the question of who would be responsible for uniforms and travel, and would there be a state competition. Schools, which foot the uniform bill, usually rotate which sport gets uniforms in a given year. Cheer squads normally get new uniforms annually.
South Tahoe High treats its cheerleading squad of 20-30 students like it is a sports team. South Tahoe participants can letter in cheerleading like players do in traditional sports.
At both South Shore schools the squad members must maintain the same grade point average athletes do.
We believe the NIAA made the correct decision in not labeling cheerleading a sport and would encourage the board members to do the same when the issue is brought up again.
There is no doubt cheerleaders work hard and need a certain amount of athleticism to perform well. However, it should fall in the same category that a dance group would.
Cheerleaders do go to competitions, but they do not regularly compete against schools in the manner sports teams do.
Instead they are seen on the sidelines of football and basketball games in a tradition that in 2003 seems like a relic of years gone by when there were no sports for girls to participate in.
And if cheerleading were to become a sport, what would that do to Title IX requirements? This federal mandate has made it so female athletes in high schools and colleges have a level playing field. It forced schools to provide equal opportunities for men and women when it came to sports.
Even though cheerleading is open to boys and girls, it remains a predominately female activity. We would hate to think this would mean something else would have to be cut. Clearly there is not the money to add a boys sport to make things equitable.
Cheerleading has its place, but that place is not on the sports roster.
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