No, says a federal judge:
Competitive cheerleading is not an official sport that colleges can use to meet gender-equity requirements, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in ordering Quinnipiac University to keep its women’s volleyball team. The parties in the case said it was the first time the issue had been decided by a judge.
Several volleyball players and their coach sued Quinnipiac, in Hamden, Conn., after it announced in March 2009 that it would eliminate the team for budgetary reasons and replace it with a competitive cheer squad.
I remember arguing about this with cheerleaders in high school. (Yes, I got into debates with cheerleaders. No, I didn't get a lot of dates in high school. Why do you ask?) Their position was that cheerleading was a sport, even though their version was almost completely devoid of athletic skill -- it was just hopping up and down and clapping -- and nothing but a sidelight to football. Competitive cheerleading is a laudable effort to move away from its sexist roots. But it's still hard to make the case that an activity rooting in expressing support for members of a sport that you're not participating in can itself be a sport.
It's nice to be vindicated in federal court 20 years later. Take that, 1989 Bloomfield Hills Andover cheerleading squad!