What, cheerleading is not a sport? A federal judge said so this week. Actually, Stefan Underhill ruled that cheerleading can’t be considered a sport by college administrators trying to satisfy Title IX requirements.

The decision touched off a small firestorm. For decades, people haven’t been able to decide what is sport and what isn’t. Take synchronized swimming for instance.

“I sympathize with (competitive) cheerleaders. For years they’ve worked to remake themselves from pom-pom girls to something far more serious, more deserving of respect. They’ve succeeded.” I wrote that in 2000, in a column stating cheerleaders are superb athletes but their competition is not a sport.

Otherwise we’d be looking at dancers, who are incredibly athletic, as something other than entertainers or artists. “Dancing With the Stars” is not sport.

Underhill’s ruling was based more on an administrative than athletic point — that college cheering was “still too underdeveloped and disorganized” to be considered a sport. Meaning, get organized, come back, and we’ll judge the issue again.

A few universities have dropped the cheering label, switching to competitive “stunts and tumbling.” What then, is gymnastics?

Competitive cheerleaders should be embraced for what they are, instead of what they are not. …


The kid’s middle name is Joseph, not “Bleepin’ “. Remember that if you see Cody Dent at the plate tonight in Sanford’s Goodall Park. The Son of Bucky is in town with his North Shore Navigators teammates to play the Mainers in a New England Collegiate Baseball League game.

Cody Dent played third base for the University of Florida this past season. He was a freshman.

His father, of course, hit the home run in a one-game playoff that ended the Red Sox season in 1978 and sent the Yankees to the American League Championship Series against Kansas City. The Yankees went on to win the World Series.

A Boston Globe story two weeks ago told the story of Red Sox Manager Don Zimmer getting out of his car in the North Carolina mountains and shouting Bucky Dent’s name with an obscenity.

You wonder if many Maine schoolkids avoided the mouthful of soap by attaching that word to Dent’s name. …


It’s worth remembering that today’s Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl Classic was just an idea in the 1980s and not the football game that has become a summertime staple.

In the push to get the game started, some proposed that Maine, with its growing number of high school teams, play a combined Vermont-New Hampshire team in the Maple Sugar Bowl. Vermont and New Hampshire started their series in 1954.

Instead, the children treated at the Shriners hospital burn units are the beneficiaries of two games. …


Brad Babb of Windham is the American-Canadian Tour’s top rookie as that race series pulls into Beech Ridge Motor Speedway for a 150-lap race tonight. The extended family of Babbs have raced at Beech Ridge and Oxford Plains Speedway for decades. Bobby Babb is Brad’s father and crew chief.

“When I started racing in the 80’s, I was 19 and didn’t know what I was getting into,” said Bobby. “Now I know. (Brad is) 17 and has that advantage.”…


That Oxford Plains Speedway owner Bill Ryan Jr. wouldn’t add Jeffrey Earnhardt to last Sunday’s TD Bank 250 field was an eye-popper.

In the past, race promoters have added name drivers to the starting field if they didn’t qualify through the three rounds of heats. It pleases the fans and the sponsors and creates a buzz. Especially when this driver’s last name is Earnhardt and not Smith or Jones.

But young Earnhardt wasn’t going to sell any more tickets, and that’s the rub with his fans who believed Ryan promoted Earnhardt’s appearance and therefore “owed” the kid a spot.

This Earnhardt couldn’t get his car to move up during qualifying, and it apparently wasn’t due to bad luck. Adding too many cars to the starting field of 38 can play havoc on a short track such as the three-eighths mile Oxford Plains. Young drivers in unfamiliar equipment on an unfamiliar and crowded track can be trouble.

NASCAR star Brad Keselowski didn’t race his way into the TD Bank 250 and was added by Ryan. The difference was, Keselowski was competitive all day. His duel with Dale Verrill in the so-called last-chance race, won by Verrill, was one of the more exciting moments of a long day.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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