The Science Seminar Series: november 1, 2012
The Creation of STUNT Cheer: A Story of Title IX, Cheerleading and the Gender Politics of Sport
Dr. Nancy Malcom
Georgia Southern University
Time: 4:00 -5:00pm
Is cheerleading a sport? Three years ago, Quinnipiac University disbanded its women’s volleyball team and declared that its female cheerleaders were varsity athletes. The following year, a federal judge declared that “Competitive cheer may, sometime in the future, qualify as a sport under Title IX. Today, however, the activity is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.” One year after this court decision, in 2011, USA Cheer sponsored the inaugural season of STUNT, a “new competitive team sport derived from cheerleading.” This research uses preliminary survey responses from STUNT participants to supplement evidence from primary documents in order to tell the story of STUNT. I argue that the creation of STUNT not only highlights how sport itself is a social construction, but does so in a way that brings into sharp focus the gender hierarchies embedded in the sporting world as well as the ambivalence surrounding our societal notions of what it means to combine femininity with athleticism.