Dear Snarky – I’m Not a Crazy Cheer Mom!

Dear Snarky,

I’m in a power struggle with my daughter’s high school. My seventeen-year-old is a gifted gymnast and cheerleader and she’s been on her high school cheer team since her freshman year. Since my child has been on the team, they’ve placed in the top ten in many national competitions.  

My huge issue is that last month her high school decided to make cheerleading a “no tryout” sport and just let anyone join the team.

The 2022 – 23 team was announced and there are 29 students on it and only about 7 have any cheerleading knowledge.

It’s insane! Cheerleading can be a dangerous sport and I let the high school principal and athletic director know that having students participating with no experience is going to get someone severely injured.

Their response was to tell me that the district was moving away from “stunt cheerleading” and wanted every student to keep “two feet on the ground” except for simple gymnastic moves like cartwheels or aerials.

This, of course, explained why they opened up cheerleading to everyone. It was an effort to dumb it down. Now with this team my daughter will have ZERO chance of competing on the national level and it also messes with her chance to get a college cheerleading scholarship because college scouts come to the national competitions.

I, along with some other mothers, have started a petition and we’ve asked to speak at the next school board meeting. I’m ready to go all out to get the high school to stop messing with the cheerleading team and reinstate a tryout policy etc. Just imagine if they did this with football. People would be freaking out.

My only problem is I’m getting pushback from the mothers of the kids who have no cheerleading experience that are now on the team. They’re now calling me the “Crazy Cheer Mom” and “Cheerleader Karen

Do you have suggestions on how to get these moms to pull their heads out and realize that it’s not in their kids best interest to be on a cheerleading team.

Signed, Not a Crazy Cheer Mom

Dear Not Crazy,

I love it when a Dear Snarky letter requires research. Yes, you are right, cheerleading is super dangerous. In fact, it’s the most dangerous sport for women. In addition, the rate of concussions received in high school cheerleading are almost as high as they are for high school football players.

These facts then propelled me further down a cheer rabbit hole and I discovered that a growing number of high schools are enforcing rules against stunts in order to keep the students safe on school property.

So, your child’s high school is, indeed, following this trend. I’m going to guess that the no tryout policy was their attempt to make cheerleading more rah, rah and less stunt driven.

Now on to what you can do and should do. In my opinion you need to back away from the pom poms. This is one of those times when you need to work with the hand you were dealt. This cheerleading team will be very different from previous ones for your daughter, but it doesn’t mean she still can’t have fun and more importantly it’s a wonderful opportunity for her to be a leader.

Here are a group of her peers she can guide and mentor as they learn the cheerleading ropes. Will the team not be as competitive as it has been in the past? Probably, but if your child wants a stunt driven cheer experience with gravity defying tricks then I suggest she joins a non-school affiliated cheerleading team that competes on the national level.

Because you have options, I think that as a mother you should be a role model for your child and exercise some grace. Drop the petition, belatedly welcome these new parents into the fold (Yes they called you crazy but your actions did shout that you thought their kids should’t be on the team.) and get your daughter into a competitive program if that’s how you want to continue her cheer career.

P.S. There are many high school football teams with a no tryout policy. Also, concussion protocol has changed a lot of football rules so I don’t think you should assume your child’s high school is picking on the cheerleaders.

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