Cheer 2009

This past weekend I checked another item off my chick list, which is comprised of activities I am not likely to do with sons…ever.  I went to a cheer leading competition.  I suspect this pilgrimage was higher on Dave’s list than mine as Bring it On is one of his favorite movies of all time.  But our 12 year old niece was competing, which made me want to go that much more.  The event coincided with a holiday weekend jaunt to Rhode Island so we all piled in the car and headed to the Providence Convention Center to take it in.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  This competition was for cheering squads that did not have any sports teams associated with them, which makes the average person like me ask, “Um, so what’s the point?”  I figured I should set my expectations appropriately.

“Is it creepy?” I queried my mother-in-law as we were leaving for the competition.

“Creepy, how?”

“Like Jon Benet creepy?” 

She stops and thinks.  “No.  There are all shapes and sizes there.  All ages.  And tons of people.  But there is make-up. It’s quite the scene.  You’ll see.”

And see I did.  For those who still have “cheer leading competition” on their chick list, it is a spectacle to be had.  Hundreds of little girls.  Hair extensions, ribbons, belly buttons, and glitter galore.  But before you think “creepy beauty pageant”, let me tell you this is a highly organized operation, complete with all the accoutrements of your standard youth athletic competition including:

  • Age groups, skill levels, and coaches
  • Trophies for everyone
  • Well-stocked snack bar
  • Parents, both overzealous and laid back, there to support their kids
  • Sibling spectators who have been dragged along against their will
  • Hours of standing around to watch your little cheerleader for 2 ½ minutes

It felt a lot like the gymnastics meets I competed in as a young girl.  Sadly, we didn’t have the glitter. I would have liked that.

But a more critical commonality is that these little cheerleaders are learning the exact same lessons as any junior athlete:  team work, sportsmanship, discipline and self esteem.  And let’s face it, for most of us, those are the only skills worthy of retaining later in life. 

So what’s the point of cheering when they’re not supporting an actual team?  Simple:  They are out there standing up and shouting out for a group that is equally if not more laudable.


Eliza Dance

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