Two Minutes and Thirty Seconds: The New World of Competitive Cheer | Documentary Idea

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:

  • Fierce competition
  • Extreme expense
  • Interpersonal relationships that naturally occur when you spend 40 hours a week at a cheer gym and it becomes your second home, your second family
  • The joy and exhilaration of competitive success and personal growth
  • Triumph and sacrifice
  • Injury and heartache
  • And a lot of blood, sweat and tears

I would like to invite someone to document my daughters' next year of competitive cheer. You will have complete access to them during the season for all practices, classes and competitions including cheer trips across the US.

You will have access to their teams, coaches and gyms and will have access to other families pending their consent at their homes and gym in Orange County, CA. This is an opportunity to document the new world of cheer athletics in the US and it's global impact on our youth. A chance to document how this sport is creating a new breed of young athlete.

It's an opportunity to document the impact that this evolving sport is having on developing the physical, mental and emotional health of our youngsters, especially girls. This is your opportunity to show the world how this relatively new activity that combines the grace of dance, the speed, strength and body control of gymnastics, and the balance of tight rope walking is making our young participants stronger than they ever thought they could be.

Get to know these young athletes, their passion, their energy, their struggles, their heartbreak, their friendships. Begin to understand this unique world where hours and hours of preparation go into perfecting a routine with people who start the season as acquaintances, eventually develop a bond of friendship and eventually become family. All for the chance to be at your best for 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

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