Recently, a court case in Connecticut has begun in which the judge is attempting to determine if cheerleading is a sport. Cheer is generally categorized as an activity for a number of reasons, but a primary one is that sports must have a defined and limited season length which would drastically change the development of the participants. Still, schools try to label it a sport to comply with Title IX instead of having any solid reason for doing so. The Connecticut case is one where a university wishes to label cheerleading a sport which would allow Quinnipiac University to eliminate volleyball but still remain in compliance with Title IX laws.
In truth, I’m not all that knowledgeable about the case or the issue, but I do know that I have a system for classifying what I believe a sport should be.
To me, a sport can be athletically or skillfully decided on the field, court, pitch, or whatever playing area is used. Judges do not determine the outcome; referees may enforce rules, but the action is decided solely by the competitors. This means that football, baseball, sprinting, swimming, long jump, and so on would be sports in my mind.
However, gymnastics, dance, cheer, ice skating, and the like would be, to me, athletic events but more accurately artistic competitions and not sports. Since judges determine the outcomes, I would not classify activities such as these as sports. The participants are undoubtedly athletic and impressive–maybe even superior–competitors than those in what I call sports; however, to me anything judged is an artistic competition.
Of course, someone always wants to throw boxing into the mix since it has judges; however, the boxers can decide the matches for themselves, so I call boxing a sport.
Plus, things like chess, poker, darts, dominoes, and events such as these would simply be games in my mind. If you play it in a bar or casino, it’s a game. 🙂
Now to be honest, my wife does not like my interpretation of classifications, but I like it. I have yet to have someone present an activity I could not classify, so until I’m stumped I’ll stick with sports, artistic competitions, and games.
Maybe I can decide the court case in Connecticut. Put back volleyball and leave cheer alone!