When you think of an athlete what image comes to your mind? Do they wear a football helmet, are they holding a lacrosse stick, or are they rounding the bases to home plate? An athlete can be a lot more than someone who scores goals, runs in the ball for a touchdown, or holds the record for the fastest time. Let me ask you, did any of you picture a cheerleader when I said the word “athlete”. In most cases, cheerleaders are not considered a key part of the game. However, in just a few minutes I will be sharing statistics, financial reasoning, and facts and explanations to why Cheerleading should be given the same rights as the rest of the Division sports do in the college atmosphere.
Many of us participate in athletics here at Bryant University, but why is our Division 1 Cheerleading program not considered a “sport” in the first place? According to a law review presented on Biediger v. Quinnipiac University, “a case-by-case analysis could allow for competitive cheerleading to be considered an intercollegiate sport (USDE, OCR, 2008).” The point remains when is the case where Cheerleading is in fact considered a sport by comparison to the other recognized sports at the university? According to doctors Johnson & Easter in a recent study, Cheerleading is number 2 in concussion reports, second to only football, yet why do other sports receive tremendous amounts of financial aid when participating in their sport? In the case of Bryant University, recognizing cheerleading as a sport comes as an asset, rather than a liability.
Let me share some facts about specifically the Bryant University Cheer program. The cheer team is held to a similar standard as other Division 1 sports who get compensation for their participation in the means of scholarships. For example; We are required to go to every practice, pay fines if we have to miss an event, practice, or game, it is mandatory for the team to be present at all football games, men’s basketball games, and certain women’s basketball games. Our season does not only end with the fall and spring seasons- we also compete under the Division 1 bracket in Daytona, FL in April. We are required to attend “game practices” (3 times a week, games that range from 1-2 days a week, as well as additional practices throughout the week for competitive practices, if you are chosen to compete which is an extra 1-2 days a week.)
Ultimately, Cheerleading takes up a great amount of time for those who compete for Bryant University.
Comparatively, according to Division 1 football player, Christian Marty, “Football takes up 4 days a week for practice, with 1 game a week, some players get full scholarships while others get partial”. In another example, Division 1 softball player, Dana Blasi, explains “softball takes up 6 days a week when in-season with 2-3 games a week and the average scholarship is around $25,000, half of tuition.”
Along with all of the facts to why Cheerleading is comparative to a Division 1 sport, a financial point of view also points to reasoning to bring Cheerleading into the same competitive realm. “In a male-dominated university, Bryant University still gives female athletes sports related student aid on average per year. Cheerleading requires each cheerleader to PAY about $1,000 per year. This is a total of approximately $16,000 for the average team a year to represent Bryant in the national competition, which brings in revenues of millions of dollars per year (NCA.varstity.com).
Financially, if Bryant University were to cover the entire cost for every cheerleader on the team- 16 people- for one year, it would be equivalent to paying approximately 2 female athletes average financial aid package.
According to NCA, Nationals Cheerleading Association, of which Bryant University competes in the Division 1 bracket under, last year alone had 450,000 participants with 750,000 spectators within one event. When was the last time we had 750,000 spectators at a Bryant University Division 1 game?
Adding Cheerleading scholarships is adding positive assets to the university itself. Giving cheerleading scholarships is another way to help Bryant gain female students at such a male-dominated school. Cheerleading scholarships also allow the program to not only grow, but to recruit talent that is missed here at Bryant University. Schools that give out scholarships to cheerleaders such as Louisville, Navarro, and University of Delaware, Central Michigan, Davenport, and many more, according to the “SCHOLARSHIP GUIDE”. All of these schools are coincidentally known for their cheerleading programs. Bryant University needs to step up their game- or their cheer program.
In closing, Bryant cheerleading represents the same bracket as the rest of the Bryant sports teams, just without the recognition, zero financial aid, or respect that the other teams get. Bryant University Cheerleading should be granted scholarships, be given similar recognition of other Division 1 sports, and overall, be taken seriously here at Bryant University with respect to their time involvement, requirements that the university puts on cheerleaders, as well as because of financial backing. Adding such scholarships would help the university overall, to increase the university’s involvement, spirit, and help to attract more female students to the university by giving out cheerleading scholarships.