NOW Comes Out in Support of Competitive Cheer (Maybe)
Granting cheerleading a place in the sports world will force the development of stricter regulations, official tournaments, and improved training and safety procedures — important symbols of legitimacy for an activity that is often dismissed, I suspect, because it is traditionally dominated by women. Additionally, I can’t help but wonder if cheerleading is denigrated even more than other ‘feminine’ athletics because its participants are typically not only women, but conventionally attractive, ones — women that no one in mainstream society appears willing to take seriously.
Recognizing cheerleading as a sport with established NCAA safety and training regulations may also be key in reducing the horrifyingly high rates of cheerleading injuries. According to the 2009 Catastrophic Sports Injury Research report, 71 percent of all catastrophic injuries to female college athletes are due to cheerleading.
Cheerleading has a problematic history, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t empower girls and women as leaders, competitors and athletes. Judge Underhill’s decision to keep competitive cheerleaders on the sidelines maintains the familiar precedent of women’s activities and health coming in last place.
To say the least, the CSC is pleasantly surprised at this turn of events, and is proud that it stands together with NOW on this issue.