Charles Curtis

 

Charles Curtis is a freelance sports writer in New York City. He has written for publications including The Daily and ESPN the Magazine

Recent Articles

Forget the Pompoms

With the development of acro and stunt programs, cheerleaders seek official recognition as athletes.

(Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
If the leaves are changing color, it means all things pigskin hog the spotlight, with the main focus on the football field as gridiron gladiators go to battle. But shift the attention to the sidelines to the cheerleading squad, and you’ll find similar athleticism and the same kinds of debates over safety concerns as those currently at the center of football. It’s a reminder of a question that would appear simple on the surface but is in fact bedeviling the world of athletics: Is cheerleading a sport? The argument in favor sees an activity that requires a great deal of athleticism to perform a host of daredevil maneuvers that include flips, twists, and tosses, not to mention equal measures of control, balance, flexibility, and precision. Competitions for national high-school cheerleading championships are as demanding and heated as the win-or-go-home March Madness in the college Division I basketball tournament. Or, as Adams State College cheerleading coach Valerie Hagedorn put it in...

Open Playing Field

The professional sports world is slowly beginning to loosen its rigid intolerance toward gays.

(Flickr/loweonthego)
(Flickr/loweonthego) Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has become a vocal proponent of marriage equality efforts in Maryland. The professional sports locker room can be a scary place, with unwritten rules and political rankings that include which players get lockers next to each other—or far, far away from one another. There are cliques, hazing, pranks, and outsize expectations of toughness. It’s the ultimate site where the stereotypes of what it means to be a man get played out, and the challenge is to fit in and not shake up the coveted “chemistry” teams strive to create. So it isn’t surprising that not a single active gay athlete has come out in American baseball, hockey, football, or basketball. But as the gay-rights movement makes strides in society at large—including the Obama administration backing marriage equality, more states voting to legalize gay marriage, and the military ending its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy—the sports world is starting to change, too, with more...

Sports Authority

UNC’s student-athlete scandal is another example of why the NCAA needs to send a consistent enforcement message.

(AP Photo)
In June 2011, the National Collegiate Athletic Association charged the football program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with violating multiple rules. An investigation had revealed that players like former defensive tackle Marvin Austin and former wide receiver Greg Little had received “improper benefits” like jewelry and money for travel. Other infractions involved a tutor giving too much help on players’ class papers and a former assistant coach accepting money from an agent in exchange for access to athletes. After UNC doled out self-imposed penalties, including vacating wins for the 2008 and 2009 season and a $50,000 fine, in March 2012 the NCAA, which organizes and enforces the rules for most collegiate athletic programs in the U.S., added that UNC would be forbidden to play in a postseason bowl this year. Ultimately, UNC, home of the Tar Heels, was put on probation and lost scholarships. Head coach Butch Davis was fired, despite no evidence that he was...