Leading off today:
Cheerleading is on the verge of official recognition as a sport by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association if, as expected, the Board of Regents approves Tuesday.
A sub-committee of the State Board of Regents met Monday to unanimously approve the recommendation by the New York State Education Department to recognize competitive cheerleading as a sport. The full board, which sets policy for public schools, will vote Tuesday.
"This is a great step for the progress of cheerleading and tomorrow's vote by the Board of Regents could be historical," Robert Zayas, the NYSPHSAA executive director, said in a statement Monday. "The NYSPHSAA is excited to have cheer potentially recognized as a sport, and a favorable vote will finally allow our association to implement coaching and safety standards for cheer coaches as well as highlight and promote the incredible athletes who participate in the sport with a championship event."
More than 30 states recognize competitive cheerleading to some extent. Many New York school districts already include cheerleading in their athletic budgets.
The NYSPHSAA has conducted a pair of regional cheerleading championships in each of the past two winter seasons. An overall state championship event would be a likely future step, as would rules governing the length of the competitive season, the number of events permitted and the minimum rest period between competitions. The implications for the numerous out-of-state competitions billing themselves as "national" championships are uncertain, but some of those events would seemingly have to abide by more stringent rules in order for New York teams to participate.
Following Regents approval, schools in the state athletic association could still opt for their cheerleading squads to maintain their traditional sideline presence at basketball games or other contests rather than engage in competitive cheerleading. In that instance, they would be prohibited from performing certain higher-risk stunts and would be excluded from some competitions.
The approvals this week would mark the end of a process that began in 2009 when school superintendents formalized their concern that cheerleaders' stunts have grown more complicated -- and potentially dangerous. In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics called for designating cheerleading as a sport, citing an increase in the number and severity of injuries; cheerleading accounted for two-thirds of all catastrophic injuries among high school girl athletes, the group said.
"Cheerleading has evolved over the last decade, and skill levels have increased tremendously," Todd Nelson, assistant director of the NYSPHSAA, told The Wall Street Journal. "It's not just standing on the sidelines cheering for your team."
That's a lot of work: Lucas Sperduti's two-run double in the top of the 14th inning broke a 3-3 tie and gave Lancaster St. Mary's a 5-3 baseball win over St. Francis on Monday.
Freshman Zach Penska pitched seven innings of three-hit relief to pick up the win. Starter Mark Gonzalez also gave up just three hits in seven innings.
"It was a well-played game on both ends," St. Mary's coach Mike Wagner told The Buffalo News. "It was tough to hit today. You needed to get a guy on third base to score because the wind was blowing in. You hit a gapper and it just stopped."