Part II: Connecticut Federal Court Rules Cheerleading Not A Sport - WHAT???

Largo High School cheerleaders cheer for their team at St. Petersburg Photo via Newscom

Continuing our discussion on whether cheerleading is a sport, or better, what truly makes any activity a sport, I think it best to build from that first part of the definition detailed in Part I - "to be a sport, an activity must exist primarily for athletic competition against other teams..."

Within that partial sentence above you not only have the concept of "competing" as a criteria for a "sport," but also strong inference that sports are athletic in nature and, thus, must require some level of athleticism in order to play or participate in them - at least respectably. So for us to nail down whether something, anything, is a sport or not we must first list what aspects are considered athletic.

As a physical educator (former coach and athlete), this is something I deal with (and evaluate) all the time. We refer to these athletic aspects as skill-related fitness components, and they include:
  
Agility   
Speed
Coordination
Balance
Power
Reaction Time

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 14:  Bucky, the mascot of the Wisconsin Badgers performs a stunt with the Wisconsin cheerleaders against the Michigan Wolverines during the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 14, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

In some way, shape or form coaches, and athletes, are always trying to improve their athleticism through these six components, thus, making them an important part of what a sport requires from its participants.

That being the case, we can use them to help create a real definition of what a "sport" actually is, rather than using an arbitrary definition like Judge Stefan Underhill used in the "cheerleading is not a sport" case.

And that definition might look something like this:

"To be a sport, an activity must exist primarily for athletic competition against other teams" and/or individuals, and contain (at least) moderate levels of agility, speed, coordination, balance, power, and reaction time when participating.

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 12:  Cheerleaders for the Iowa Hawkeyes perform a stunt against the Michigan Wolveriens during the first round of the Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 12, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Under this definition, basketball, soccer, swimming, gymnastics, volleyball, football, badminton, tennis, wrestling, baseball, and yes - competitive cheer would all fall under the category of a "sport." And the nice thing about using such a definition is that it helps remove much of the ambiguity and simple "opinion" expressed from many of the commenters at the end of Omaha World-Herald's article.

To further clarify, if we were to apply the original definition of a sport detailed in the World-Herald piece (the one Judge Stefan Underhill used in the case) to, say..., professional boxing, we would find that professional boxing is not a sport either because it does not have a defined season nor is it teams that are competing.

How silly is that???

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