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Saturday, January 9

Pros and Cons of Letting Your Child Join a Cheerleading Squad


The day has come. Your child comes home and says cheerleading tryouts are next week and they want to be a cheerleader. Whether it's the school squad or a local rec team, there are some things that need to be considered before letting your child try out.  Here are some pros and cons:

Pros:

* Cheerleading is an opportunity for your child to learn teamwork, leadership, sportsmanship and dedication. 

* Your child will have a social network of people from the squad – for many cheerleaders, their squad becomes a second family of trusted friends, and the coach can serve as a mentor who your child can go to when she may not be comfortable talking to you.

* Cheerleading is a sport, and a good way to keep in shape. Cheerleaders work out, create and practice complicated routines and incorporate a lot of gymnastics and dance moves. 

* Cheerleading can help your child feel confident and be a part of something at school. 

* Cheerleading is a lot of fun and it’s an upbeat and positive way to show school spirit. 

Cons:

* Cheerleaders are subject to a multitude of stereotypes. There may be discrimination your child will face simply because of the decision to join the squad.  

* Cheerleading takes a lot of time. There’s a lot of driving back and forth, not just to practices but also games, competitions and cheer camps. Cheerleading season can last just in the fall for football in some schools, or it can last all year, from varsity football through varsity basketball season. Games can run late in the night and be a long ride home. 

* The time factor could interfere with school work or other activities. 

* Cheerleading can be expensive. Entry fees to competitions, uniforms, camps all cost money – sometimes these are covered by the school, sometimes they are not. There can be fundraisers but often times schools are limited to the amount of fundraisers they can hold, so they might not be able to earn as much as you did when you were in school. 

* Cheerleading could make it difficult for your child to participate in other activities such as another sport, marching band or academic teams. 

* Although times have changed, there are many schools that still have cheerleaders wearing skirts shorter than the school dress code. 

* Because of the gray area between athletics and cheerleading, there may be schools that don’t have strict rules regarding which moves are safe and how to respond to injuries, etc. Your child’s team may have either a well-trained and seasoned coach or a volunteer who means well but doesn’t know much about sports safety. Jumps, lifts and pyramid formations can be dangerous, and concussion rates among cheerleaders are growing. 

Overall, you’ll have to use your intuition. Cheerleading has changed a great deal over the years, and most people who have been a part of it have fond memories.  I know I do!  Joining the team can be a great way for your child to make friends, build confidence, learn teamwork and leadership and keep fit. Why not give it a try?

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