NOW Comes Out in Support of Competitive Cheer (Maybe)

Here’s a piece of news that had me gasping in astonishment: the National Organization of Women has come out in support of competitive cheer. Here’s a linkto the statement:

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.

One wonders what folks like Donna Lopiano, Neena Chaudhry and Nancy Hogshead-Makar think about this turn of events.

UPDATE: One of our readers has alerted me to the fact that the post in question was written by an intern at NOW. So while it might not be an official statement of policy, I still think it’s astonishing. And in any case, it does present an opportunity to ask the senior leadership at NOW: do you support the nation’s cheerleaders in their effort to get competitive cheer recognized as a sport under Title IX. I’ll call them up and ask.

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