by Tom Ryan
(Rancho Santa Margarita, CA)
Invitation to documentary filmmakers:
April 4, 2014 - Competitive cheer leading has become a multi-billion dollar industry with over 10,000 exclusively cheer (or spirits sports) gyms active in the US.
In fact, this formerly exclusive American activity popularized by pretty girls with pom poms on the sidelines of football games in the mid 19th century has become a global phenomenon. Dare I say a global sport!
Today's cheer leaders are, in fact, athletes engaging in an activity that requires them to contort their bodies in full twisting back somersaults, graceful, well choreographed dance routines and high flying stunts. All of this is executed with precision, in unison, to exact eight counts to a unique music mix...all in two minutes and 30 seconds.
The sport culminates each year with the Cheerleading world championship competition in Orlando Florida and is televised on ESPN networks. The sport has blossomed in just 10 years and is attracting interest from athletes of more traditional US sports like gymnastics, soccer, football and more. And it's not just for girls. Coed teams have emerged especially with older (18+) participants.
Competitive cheer transcends our traditional athletic landscape in this country. Dominated by the all star/club (not school based teams) system regulation is private and safety is not mandated by any government oversight.
I am a cheer dad with two daughters who have participated in this sport for the past four years. My youngest is 9 and is heading into her third year of competitive cheer. My older daughter is 14 and heading into her fourth year in the sport. This past year she participated on her high school's competitive cheer and game line teams as well a level 5 international worlds team with her all star gym. We are an active cheer family experiencing all of the dynamics that surround this sport:
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