Legislation would make cheerleading a sport in N.J.

A Senate committee on Thursday approved legislation that would make cheerleading an official sport in New Jersey.

Lawmakers in New Jersey are pushing to make cheerleading an official sport.
Lawmakers in New Jersey are pushing to make cheerleading an official sport.

The bill still needs to clear the full Senate and Assembly before it heads to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk, but the state athletic association is hoping it doesn’t make it that far. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association isn’t opposed to cheerleading becoming a sport, but having lawmakers make such a mandate is something that’s fairly unusual. Sanctioning a new sport is typically decided and voted on by the state athletic association.

From NJ.com:

“At this point, there is no member school saying there is a need here,” said Paul Anzano, legal counsel for the NJSIAA. “We would listen if the membership said we should consider regulating cheerleading.”

Anzano warned that the cheerleading bill could have unintended consequences that “change the face of the program.”

Preseason practice schedules would be regulated and cheerleaders would be subject to transfer and eligibility rules along with random drug testing during championship seasons, he said. Competition cheerleading squads would no longer be allowed to receive private funding.

The bill is also problematic because it doesn’t draw a distinction between competitive cheerleading teams and the traditional squads on the sideline at other sporting events, Anzano said.

In its current form, the bill would require the NJSIAA to develop guidelines for participation, conduct tournaments and establish coach and program safety requirements, according to the article.

The argument, at least as presented by the lawmakers quoted in the article, seems to be that what cheerleaders are capable of is pretty incredible, so it should be a sport.

Click here to read the full article.

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