Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Competitive cheer jumps from athletics to Student Affairs

Photo by Chris Denver
The cheer team performs during a basketball game earlier this semester.

Point Park Athletics will be transitioning in the upcoming fall from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II (NCAA II). In the transition, the NCAA does not consider competitive cheer a sanctioned sport. 


The NAIA made competitive cheerleading a sport in 2016.  


Ava Figueroa, a freshman psychology major, said, “It is very unfair that cheer is not considered a sport by the NCAA. It is really outdated for them, as NAIA does consider it a sport.” 


According to a United Educators Article from August, 2023, “There are two categories of cheerleading: spirit squad and competitive cheer.”  


Spirit squad is focused on students cheering on other athletic teams, while competitive cheer, also known as STUNT, combines the spirit aspect with acrobatics and dance. These teams compete at  regional, state and national levels.  


The Point Park cheer team participates in both spirit squad and competitive cheer.  


Competitive cheer gets judged and scored by creativity of routine, technique, difficulty of tumbling, etc.  


All competitive cheer routines require physical effort and skill and are done according to rules. 


Head Coach of Competitive Cheer & Dance Bettina Herold said in an email, “It is not in the NCAA, but we can still have the team as a sport at the school.” 


The NCAA and Title IX do not recognize cheer as a sport.  


Title IX is the section of the Education Amendments of 1972 that requires that men’s and women’s sports be prohibited from discrimination. 


According to a Time article from March, 2020, “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.”  


Interim Vice President of Athletics Scott Swain said, “The competitive cheer team will not be under athletics; their program will now be under student affairs.” 


Swain said that the program will still function as it originally had – funding, competing and cheering at sports games.  


Swain says all athletic teams fundraise for special trips or events at Point Park and are funded by athletics. However, competitive cheer now will be funded through the university, not athletics.  


Recruiting will look different for the cheer team, as they do not have to follow the NCAA guidelines in which athletes have to wait until a certain point during high school to be contacted by coaches. 


Swain says scholarships will also be available for the cheer team even though they are no longer under athletics. 


“Priority scheduling for the cheer team is to be determined, but he would believe yes,” Swain said.


An emerging sport for the NCAA is called STUNT. STUNT removes the aspect of spirit squad and is focused more on the athletic aspect of cheering acrobatics and stunting.  


According to the NCAA, “the emerging sport is a women’s sport recognized by the NCAA that is intended to help schools provide more athletics opportunities for women and more sport-sponsorship options for institutions, while helping that sport achieve NCAA championship status.”  


STUNT could be approved for champion status. If it does, the sport will have to fulfill the NCAA requirements. If approved, STUNT, the similar concept of competitive cheer, opens a door for athletes to compete their skills at the collegiate NCAA level. 

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