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Old 12-01-2014, 10:04 AM   #21
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My DD did competitive cheer for a couple of years. She liked it a lot. I was torn . . .

It's not "cheering for" a team, and they aren't on the sidelines. The teams are competing against other teams. It's a lot of work, and the girls (and they are almost all girls) do get a very good workout at each practice. Think of it as a combination of dancing and gymnastics. It does teach them teamwork, and the value of hard work (like many sports).

It's also dangerous (IMO). No helmets or protective gear other than a mat. The girls do some stunts that have considerable vertical aspects--it's not unusual for girl to have her feet 10 feet off the floor. "Flyers" (the lighter/smaller girls who get thrown in many stunts) obviously have a bigger chance of getting hurt, but all the participants are at some risk. I don't know how the teams/coaches get liability insurance--I'll bet most don't.

It's definitely a business. The coach/owner won't turn away any girl, the ones who aren't very good will stay on the lower-level squads. A girl will only be booted off the team if her parents fail to pay or if she is so disruptive/dangerous that the other parents complain and threaten to quit. There's a lot of money to be spent on entry fees, uniforms, membership, etc. And the meets involve a lot of travel, sometimes with an overnight $tay.

I didn't like the parental "pushing" and projecting themselves into their girls, but even moreso I was put off by the emphasis on "show". A lot of "hip action" in the moves (there are limits on what is allowed, but coaches go right to the limits). For meets, there's heavy mascara, eyeliner, lipstick, and blush ("It helps the judges see our expressions from a distance"). Many hairpieces and faux ponytails. It's not "Honey Boo Boo" or Miley Cyrus, but it was too much for me. It was interesting to note that the moms were a lot less bothered by this than the dads. It just seemed a very unhealthy thing to be teaching young girls--this is how you succeed. Don't they get that message clearly enough in every other aspect of their lives? Seems, as parents, we should be going exactly the opposite way.

I also didn't like the subjective nature of the judging (this is not a point unique to "cheer", it would be the same in gymnastics, figure skating, competitive artistic endeavors, etc). This is probably entirely personal, but an objective win/loss (based on time, runs or baskets scored, etc) takes the showmanship and vagaries of appealing to judges out of it. There will always be some subjectivity in the refereeing, but the less the outcome depends on what someone else thinks, and the more clearly it depends entirely on what they accomplished, the better.

So, with all those negaitves, why was I still on the fence? DD loved it. At a time in her life (early teens) when Mom and Dad were less important, this gave us something to do together. When she was emotionally "checking out" of school, she still enjoyed this and looked forward to it. So--there it was. We wrote the checks and became part of the machine. She still looks back on it with a lot of good feelings. I don't regret it, but it's not the path I would have picked.

"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
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Old 12-01-2014, 12:44 PM   #22
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+1 on what others said ... you should be glad that no one is pushing for a beauty pageant preparation.

I think similar thing is happening for many activities. Martial are lessons became a money generating scheme a long ago.

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Old 12-02-2014, 03:31 PM   #23
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Football wasn't cheap when I was a kid. Helmet, pads, sports glasses, etc that were only good for a year or two at best. My dad was big on football, so he paid.

I remember a bunch of fund-raising activities the team did for the other stuff as well. I remember one afternoon selling donuts in front of a Kmart for long enough that the parents started buying them to get us out of there.

Baseball was pretty cheap, since the equipment was cheaper and longer lasting.

Like everything, you have to weigh the cost versus the expected reward.

My parents bought me a Commodore 64 and disk drive for about $450 in 1982 or so. That's the equivalent to $1100 or so today, and we were not affluent by any stretch of the imagination. They had seen that I had interest and aptitude in the area though, so they went ahead and bought it.

That money is probably the best investment they ever made in my development.

Originally Posted by NanoSour View Post
A little cynical I know, but as a product of the 70's, I don't remember any families spending this kind of money on their kids sport endeavors, whether it was football, soccer, baseball, or cheer leading. YMMV
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Old 12-02-2014, 04:48 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
Her dad, recounted a recent session with a cheerleading "coach" who had spotted some excellent athletic traits, watching Riley swimming in the local pool. She asked Scott (DS) to come for a consultation, to see if Riley would qualify for classes.
Wasn't this the same play run on girls in the past by so called modeling agencies?

2) “Spirit” fees (banquet, pep rallies, gifts, etc.): $100
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Old 12-02-2014, 08:13 PM   #25
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Seems like a racket. There's a huge market in persuading parents that they can offer a surefire path to success for their kids. For only a thousand bucks your kid, too, can be a beautiful successful 5.5 year old. Would you deny them their destiny just to save chump change?
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Old 12-02-2014, 08:37 PM   #26
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It just seems to be they are pushing these things on kids way too young. I can see that maybe at the middle school or high school level, but 51/2?

Even football goes too low. I have a nephew who started playing organized football at 5. He was one of the fortunate good enough to end up with a full scholarship at a Division I University. But along the way he had 2 knee operations from injuries. As a freshman he played well enough where we was #2 on the receiving depth chart as the season started, but got another slight injury that didn't require surgery but would end up with him missing more than half the season. The team redshirted him so he wouldn't lose a year of eligibility. But this spring he told his dad he had enough with football. He told us at Thanksgiving "I've been playing since I was 5, and I just feel burned out".

Fortunately he is an excellent student and chose the college more for their academics (he had several scholarship offers but interestingly some of the schools said his majors would be restricted if he were on the football team due to schedule conflicts), so he is still enjoying college. But unless a kid has their own passion for something, starting so young seems to be more exploitative, by adults trying to reclaim their lost "glory days".
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Old 12-02-2014, 10:36 PM   #27
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I think its a scam.
Besides, what can you aspire to as a world famous cheerleader ? Nothing, its not like being a football/baseball/soccer player where you will sign up for 10's of millions.
Look at the lawsuit by the NFL cheerleaders, they are not even paid minimum wage, often not even paid to cheer.
Might as well sign kids up to be on the quilting team, as they are just being sold a pipe dream it will amount to anything (except maybe a modeling career, in which case go directly to modeling school for more change).
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Old 12-02-2014, 11:38 PM   #28
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Our kids usually were more involved in outdoors and park rec kind of sports, but one year one kiddo wanted to do track. At the awards dinner it seemed like close to half the kids who got awards ended the season out with injuries. I think the coaches just pushed them too hard. It just didn't seem like fun, those kids were running up needless medical bills, and it was expensive even without the medical bills. The whole emphasis was on strengthening, weight lifting and conditioning and very little emphasis on any kind of stretching or yoga, which seemed pretty old school and pretty easily explained all of injuries in a non-contact sport.

At my last job a 50% failure rate on any kind of project would have a review team looking at it to see what was going wrong and what could be done differently, but most of the parents and coaches just seemed to accept all these injuries as a normal part of school sports.

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