U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill probably knows the law far better than most. He's a Rhodes Scholar, with a law degree from Yale.
But there's one area where we doubt the judge's expertise:
Yep. We're talking about the judge's recent decision that competitive cheerleading is not an official Title IX sport.
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How did cheerleading get into federal court?
Title IX, also known as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, for the congresswoman who wrote it, removes barriers based on sex, race or religion in academic institutions that receive federal funds.
Several volleyball players and their coach sued Quinnipiac University after it announced it would eliminate the team for budgetary reasons and replace it with a competitive cheer squad.
That's not fair and cheerleading's not a sport, cried the plaintiffs. The judge agreed. The college will set up a women's rugby team instead.
This is the first time a U.S. court had addressed cheerleading, so the judge set a precedent.
"Competitive cheer may, some time in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX," Judge Underhill wrote. "Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students."
Sorry, judge, it just doesn't meet the common sense test.
The tumbling, coordination, practice and discipline involved make competitive cheerleading one of the sportiest things around.
Participants have the scars to prove it. (No, we're not equating sports with getting injuries, but with the cheerleading injury rate more than doubling in the past 13 years, it's a sign of something.)
Title IX does require that an activity is a sport only if it meets specific criteria -- including having competition as its primary goal -- not merely the support of other athletic teams.
That sounds like cheerleading to us.
In fact, competitive cheerleaders don't even participate at football games, if that's what the judge had in mind.
They just compete. That's the whole purpose of it.
Maybe they ought to have a half-time program where the guys come out and play a couple of downs for the crowd.
Then the judge might decide cheerleading is a sport after all.