MEMPHIS, Tenn., June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The debate about cheerleading as a school sport has figured prominently in the headlines this week. Quinnipiac University is in federal court in Connecticut to determine if the proposed elimination of its women's volleyball program violates participation requirements of Title IX. A key issue in the case hinges on whether Quinnipiac can count its cheerleading squad as a means to satisfy the participation requirements of Title IX in lieu of its volleyball team.
Jeff Webb, founder and CEO of Varsity Spirit, the leading organization in cheerleading, was called as an expert witness in the case. One of the questions in the case is whether school cheerleading can be counted as a sport specifically under Title IX's requirements. Such a designation could require that cheerleading's primary role would be to compete, meaning school cheerleaders would no longer be able to cheer on the sidelines as they do now.
"We support any effort that promotes cheerleading or that creates opportunities for women and girls," Webb said. "At the same time, we want to make sure that any sport designation does not take away the traditional role of cheerleading and that we preserve the very qualities that make cheerleading such an appealing activity for young people. I'm thinking of leadership, ambassadorship, service in the community: these are the character traits that cheerleading has always fostered."
Webb added, "Varsity's position is that we support all forms of cheerleading. This includes traditional school cheerleading as well as the popular derivation known as All Star. Varsity supports any development that gives a larger group of young people the opportunity to participate in cheerleading."
To eliminate potential confusion, one solution Varsity has recommended is to create a separate discipline – that is not called cheerleading – whose sole focus is competition. This new discipline may include some of the components of cheerleading; however, it should have a distinct look, format, name, and rules.
"Whatever resolution occurs, cheerleading must be allowed to retain its true values and function which have evolved over the past 100 years: leadership, spirit raising, entertainment, athleticism, and an element of competition," Webb said.
Varsity is the source for all things related to cheerleading and dance team. With a rich heritage and traditions dating back to 1948, Varsity is an innovative global leader comprised of the leading spirit brands and organizations including its educational camps, clinics, competitions and uniforms to teams around the world. Varsity's National Championships, which are held at the Walt Disney World® Resorts, have been televised on ESPN Networks for more than 25 years. Sponsors of Varsity events include Gatorade and Nike. Web-based Varsity TV features thousands of cheerleading and dance team videos and has become a favorite cheer destination for cheerleaders and coaches alike. Varsity has led the way in cheerleading safety as a supporter of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators since 1987 and as a camp leader training more than 300,000 cheerleaders per year in cheerleading fundamentals with an emphasis on safety. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Varsity employs 5,000 employees nationwide. For more information about Varsity, please visit http://www.varsity.com.