Friday, May 04, 2007

Should cheerleaders have to cheer for both boys' and girls' teams?

Get on up and get on down/Huskies are victory-bound/So get on up and get on down/And back your team, all around!

You've probably heard a cheer like that one while watching your school's basketball team. Cheerleaders have revved up the crowds at games for years — but typically only the boys' teams have gotten the cheers. These days some squads are rooting for the girls, too, but not everyone is pumped up.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights recently ruled that several upstate New York schools were violating Title IX, the landmark 1972 law that prohibits sex discrimination in public education programs and activities. The problem? Cheerleaders weren't spending equal time at the girls' and boys' basketball games. As a result, those schools have to even out the cheers.

Some say that having the cheerleaders root for both the girls' and boys' teams will bring more excitement to the girls' games. Others say that cheering for both teams causes undue stress for the cheerleaders.


Girls' basketball coach Lance Brown of New York's Irondequoit High School says that equal cheers for girls and boys is a good morale booster. "It could be very exciting." Brown told the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle.

"The cheerleaders will bring more people to the games." Some student athletes agree. "We have [to believe] in ourselves, but one thing that really helps us is when the fans … and the cheerleaders come out … and let us know that they have faith in us," Jenny Anderson, a top scorer on California's Redwood High School girls' basketball team, told the Marin (Calif.) Independent Journal.

Women's Sports Foundation head Donna Lopiano told Current Events that there's "no question" that cheerleaders should spend equal time with boys' and girls' teams, because that's the law under Title IX. "If you promote your boys' and girls' teams with bands [and] cheerleaders, … then you cannot discriminate."


Some cheerleaders are concerned that the new rules will add stress to their lives. "We are not going to have time to do [our homework] because we are going to be out every night of the week cheering for this basketball game and that basketball game," senior cheerleader Dalya Shears told the Press & Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton, N.Y.

Cheerleading captain Katelin Maxson of Whitney Point High School agrees. "We joined sports to have fun, but they're basically taking the fun away and giving us more work." Maxson told The New York Times. She says the increased responsibility is affecting participation. "The interest is down so much, and it's going to keep dropping until there's no cheerleading anymore."

Some athletes say that the cheerleaders aren't needed at girls' games. "I don't think it's necessary." Taylor Kucharski, a junior point guard for the Maine-Endwell Senior High School girls' basketball team, told the Press & Sun-Bulletin. "If the cheer-leaders don't want to be there and the basketball players don't need them there, what's the point?"

Current Events, 5/2007

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