What qualifies as sport?

Cheerleading is not a sport.

Before I get any death threats, I want to clarify that that’s not my personal opinion and that I totally understand the need to fight against people who argue against an activity’s status as a sport.

While it’s bad news for cheerleading, a Connecticut judge’s decision on Title IX qualifications strengthens the case for collegiate figure skating and synchronized skating.

U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill called cheerleading “too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.”

The decision came about because the Quinnipiac University women’s volleyball team sued the school for replacing their team with a competitive cheerleading squad.

The Associated Press reports that an activity can be considered a sport under Title IX if it has coaches, practices, competitions during a defined season, and a governing organization.

Therein lies my argument. Oakland University has a figure skating club that students can represent in various intercollegiate figure skating competitions, including a national championship, each year.

The club is also represented by the Synchronized Skating Club of OU, which competes for the school against other colleges and universities in multiple competitions throughout a season.

According to the sport’s national governing body, the United States Figure Skating Association, over 60 colleges and universities offer some type of figure skating program.

Unlike cheerleading, where national championships are conducted by an organization that is a private business — the Varsity apparel brand — figure skating and synchronized skating both have test structures and national competition structures in place.

Both men and women can compete in not only collegiate figure skating, but synchronized team skating as well. Additionally, rules requiring skaters to be full-time students are already in place.

Don’t even get me — or any other synchronized skater, for that matter — started on the fact that I think synchronized skating should be an Olympic sport. It’s already been proven that figure skating is a sport. It is, after all, an event in the Winter Olympics.

This is further proof that synchronized skating should be given varsity status at all colleges. According to the U.S. Figure Skating Association, there are no college scholarships offered for skaters.

Miami University of Ohio has been the pioneer in recognizing these sports at the collegiate level. Former MU Redhawks coach Vicki Korn has been a proponent of NCAA status for synchronized skating and has argued for the competitive nature of the sport shows.

During her tenure, her varsity team placed in the top three nationally at the senior level, 12 out of 14 times against other elite — many of them non-collegiate — teams and competed at numerous World Championships.

Collegiate skaters who qualify through the U.S. Collegiate Championships also represent the U.S. at the World University Games.

Is that not a clear enough argument for NCAA status? Why is it that athletes can represent their country, but still not be considered a “true” collegiate athlete?

As a point of comparison, bowling is an NCAA sport. I think the skill involved with figure skating or synchronized skating is at least comparable to what is needed to bowl.

I won’t rest until stroking and spinning are as well known as spares and strikes.

Editor’s note: Kay Nguyen is beginning her second season as a skater for the Synchronized Skating Club of Oakland University.