Feeling a little less lonely on the cheerleading front

• I’ve spent some fascinating hours researching the status of women’s sports around the world, and it certainly puts into a more realistic perspective the recent skirmishes over Title IX that I’ve been blogging about here and elsewhere. Since no other country has a law mandating sports offerings as Title IX does in the United States, activists, athletes and organizations pushing for greater athletic opportunities for females have to work in very different ways, and with varying objectives.

It’s been just a decade or two, in fact, since the International Olympic Committee, FIFA, FIBA and even the United Nations began addressing global disparities in sports for women and getting themselves organized to play significant roles in this process.

Meanwhile, the rah-rah over competitive cheerleading on the Fruited Plain continues . . .

• Women’s sportswriter Mechelle Voepel thinks on balance the Quinnipiac decision was a good one, but offers the closest thing to a voice of reason on that side of the ledger.

• Cheerleading advocates will keep fighting for inclusion although immediate prospects for the growth of their sport at the college level have been dented.

• Richard Epstein isn’t happy with the Quinnipiac ruling, and fulminates at Forbes:

“A totalitarian peace will rule the land.”

That’s a bit much, I think.

• At ESPN.com, Gregg Easterbrook nails exactly where I come down on this, and with a better sense of humor, likening Title IX to a Monty Python sketch. Easterbrook really spikes an ace here:

“Take a gander at that 95-page judicial ruling. There are excruciating details on whether the university sought enough guidance from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights before making a volleyball decision. Civil rights are serious, important national issues — whether a college offers volleyball or cheer is not a civil rights issue!

“There is no ‘civil right’ to be on a volleyball team! If you hope to continue to play women’s volleyball in college, it’s up to you to transfer to a college that offers the sport rather than run to the courthouse demanding special favoritism.”

About that Monty Python sketch: Is it the one about a dead parrot? Gotta read the full Monty to find out, folks.

• A point-counterpoint debate is underway at FanHouse, with Clay Travis professing that cheerleading is a sport, and David Whitley arguing to the contrary. That headline, however, will not please the activists one bit.

• Allison Kasic at the conservative Independent Women’s Forum gives some props to yours truly and this non-doctrinaire liberal does appreciate it.

In all of my musings here, it’s never been about taking sides or choosing one raging argument over the other.

The Quinnipiac case angered me because both the school and the activists showed their backsides in rather unbecoming ways. I gave the Title IX diehards the worst of it because they have taken it upon themselves to determine what’s best for women in sports, and will engage in no small amount of legal expense and self-aggrandizing publicity to get their way. Flag football is another sport the activists are trying to nip in the bud, so don’t be surprised to see that as battleground fare in the near future.

I was never enamored with cheerleading, especially as a young tomboy who despised all forms of girly-girly behavior. They were the snotty, popular girls in school, with their bouncy long hair and cute boyfriends, but I felt superior thinking they were merely decorative. They were on the sidelines; I was in the game.

Then I got over my own snottiness and realized it didn’t matter what I thought; girls have been flocking to cheerleading in even greater numbers since various competitions began cropping up over the last couple of decades. My now-adult female cousin cheered for her high school teams, and these girls took their routines and their tournaments as seriously as the athletes they were rooting on.

If girls and young women are expressing greater interest in these physical, competitive activities than supposed “real” sports, then these interests should be accommodated, not demeaned. Just like one of the tests for Title IX compliance.

The snotty girls are no longer the ones with the pom-poms, but those who have appointed themselves the arbiters of what girls should be doing. They remind me of the snotty, haughty playground schoolgirls who used to tell me to stop playing sports with the boys if I wanted to hang with them. It made my decision to bid adieu to that kind of cliquishness easy. Now the tables are turned with a new kind of groupthink, and it’s just as wrong to impose.

Totalitarian? Maybe. Bossy? Certainly.

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