Anyone who follows college sports knows that the University of Oregon’s athletic department, with its Nike connections, has a lot of money at its disposal. How much? So much that the school is now handing out scholarships for its new competitive cheerleading team.
(They deserve a scholarship, right? They’re more entertaining than the fencing team.)
While the university does have seemingly endless financial resources, all this actually has more to do with the fact that Oregon reinstated its baseball team this year than anything else. Title IX requires that the school add the same number of scholarships for women that the baseball team uses. And I guess the school was out of ideas for more women’s sports, so they decided that a varsity cheer team was a good enough idea. Here’s to hoping they get good coaching on how to properly operate a t-shirt cannon.
BUSTED COVERAGE alerted us to a story written by the COLUMBIAN’s Howard Buck, who covered the signing day of young Naomi Hoffman of Camas, Washington. She apparently actually had a little public ceremony to sign her letter of intent (that the local newspaper found worthy of covering). And yes, I guess there are letters of intent for this sport, which from what I can gather is officially called something like “high-impact stunt cheerleading” or something like that.
According to Buck, Oregon is one of several schools to recently start such a team at the varsity level. One wonders if it’s because universities are trying to help legitimize a sport that only came about because there were other teams to cheer for — or if this is a shrewd way to quickly add some women’s scholarships to help offset new men’s teams or an increase in men’s scholarships in existing sports.
Regardless, Oregon is jumping into this with both feet. They’ve hired a coach from Kennesaw State who won some national championships and is bringing some of her existing team with her to Eugene.
Apparently, stunt cheerleading is a winter sport, and the team will compete at the Ducks’ basketball arena. Based on TV coverage, I thought every cheerleading competition was at Disney World.
I’m under the impression that this team will be separate from the football and basketball cheerleading squads. The current (I guess, “low impact”) cheer squads have usually gathered high marks from fans. I was at an NIT game at Madison Square Garden a few years ago that Oregon was playing in and the crowd was more vocal in its support of the Ducks’ cheerleaders than of any of the teams playing basketball that night.