Don't bring it on: the case against cheerleading as a collegiate sport


The 2010 Quinnipiac cheerleading case raises interesting questions about the nature of both cheerleading and sport, as well as about the moral character of each. In this paper we explore some of those questions, and argue that no form of college cheerleading currently in existence deserves, from a moral point of view, to be recognized as a sport for Title IX purposes. To reach that conclusion, we evaluate cheerleading using a quasi-legal argument based on the NCAA's definition of sport and conclude that cheerleading fails to qualify as a legitimate sport. A philosophical argument leads to the same conclusion, primarily because of the essential entertainment-aspect of cheerleading. We then examine a consequentialist moral case for making cheerleading an intercollegiate sport and argue that the balance of moral reasons is against doing so. Finally, we look at cheerleading's newest offspring - Acrobatics and Tumbling, and STUNT - and express our moral reservations about their current claims to be worthy of Title IX recognition. While we would not claim that any single one of our arguments is decisive, we are convinced that the cumulative weight of the arguments against granting intercollegiate sport status to any of the forms of cheerleading or its derivatives is, at present, irresistible.



Document Type





cheerleading, competitive cheer, health risks, sexism, Title IX

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of the Philosophy of Sport