At the Carleton Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) meeting on Thursday September 23, the body voted to support the establishment of both Equestrian and Stunt as emerging sports for women. Natalie Lafferty ’22, a member of the women’s soccer team who voted in favor of both resolutions said, “I know they’ve been trying for a long time, and I figured, ‘why not give them a shot.’”
According to Carleton SAAC President, Talia Williams ’22, the Carleton SAAC only plays an advisory role in this matter. “Each campus and conference SAAC provides feedback on NCAA proposed legislation every fall,” she said. “This feedback is then relayed to DIII SAAC members, who speak on behalf of the conferences they represent at the NCAA Convention in January, where an official vote is taken and the fate of that piece of legislation is decided.”
However, even if the legislation for both sports passes in January, it does not mean Equestrian and Stunt will be fully-sanctioned NCAA sports. “It is important to clarify that this legislation would establish stunt and equestrian as emerging NCAA sports,” said Williams “This means that there will be a trial period where interest and participation will be assessed, before they can be added as sanctioned sports with their own championships, etc.”
The specific language from the proposal for the establishment of Equestrian as an emerging sport for women states that “being on the Division III emerging sport list will empower the continued evolution of equestrian for students and will create additional opportunities for equestrian student-athletes to access the high-quality experience inherent to NCAA championship sports, just like their varsity student-athlete peers in other sports.”
Meanwhile, the NCAA Division III Management Council’s Committee on Women’s Athletics, the source of the Stunt proposal said that “Stunt provides opportunities for participants with diverse sport backgrounds (e.g., powerlifting, gymnastics) and female sport administrators, coaches, and officials… The experience of a stunt student-athlete is comparable to the experience of student-athletes who compete in NCAA sports, and the sport’s organizational structure and rules are consistent with NCAA values and legislation.”
An Emerging Sport for Women is defined by the NCAA as “a women’s sport recognized by the NCAA that is intended to help schools provide more athletics opportunities for women and more sport-sponsorship options for the institutions, and also help that sport achieve NCAA championship status.” Current emerging sports for women include rugby, acrobatics and tumbling, triathlon and women’s wrestling. The NCAA notes that in the 21 years since the inception of Emerging Sports for Women, many sports have made it off the list and been granted full championship status, including beach volleyball, rowing, ice hockey, water polo and bowling.
“We see overwhelmingly that the high-level realms of the discipline continue to be dominated by men, highlighting the continued devaluation of gender, race and class within the sport,” said Maddie Fry, President of Carleton Club Equestrian. “For that reason, I would support Equestrian as an NCAA-sanctioned sport. College athletics can provide opportunities for future professional careers. Equestrians and other lesser known sports should have the same access to that as any other sport.”
DIII championship sports sanctioned by the NCAA but not at Carleton include: field hockey, ice hockey, rowing and lacrosse. If stunt and equestrian make it onto—and then eventually off of—the emerging sports list and become fully sanctioned NCAA Division III sports, it does not necessarily mean they will be brought to Carleton.