By Regina Sanchez
Competitive cheer will be recognized as an official high school sport under the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) next year.
Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 949, classifying competitive cheer as a sport in October of last year. According to the bill, “competition cheer” will be a sport in which teams participate head-to-head with other teams, using the same layout as a volleyball or basketball game.
The format of cheer as a high school sport will change. The EC Californian reports that football and basketball cheer will continue as they are, but it would now be considered as a “spirit club.”
The cheer that will be offered as a sport is the competition cheer. Students can compete in one or the other, but will not be allowed to do both.
For many years, students on the cheer team have been able to earn P.E. credits through cheer. Effective this upcoming cheer season, Novato High cheerleading will no longer be considered a sport that students can receive P.E. credits for. This will be difficult for many students, especially for freshmen who were planning to waiver out of P.E. their sophomore year.
This new sport will consist of scoring in three categories. Stunting, cheer, and dance. Teams will take the floor and compete with very strict guidelines. For example, during the cheer portion of competition, they are allowed to use signs, poms, megaphones etc. The are not allowed to do tumbling, or do any stunts. They have to remain on the floor at all times, except when doing jumps. The routines must be 2.5 minutes long, and they can use music but must have a minute of cheering without music.
During the stunting portion, the routines must be 2.5 minutes long. The stunts should include jumps, stunts, pyramids, dance, cheers, and tumbling. These routines will tend to be more difficult. The stunts should comply under the safety rules.
Many current Novato High cheerleaders have different opinions on the change of their sport.
JV captain Debbie Portillo thinks that changing to the new way of cheer have both a positive and negative impact on the program.
“This will make the cheer teams work harder and try to learn new skills,” said Portillo. “As a captain, I do like the way we currently do cheer, but the new layout could be a good idea if we didn't have to do it every single week or be as competitive.”
Sophomore Kenya Dickerson is on the Varsity cheer and dance team. Dickerson believes that this change will be hard on the team, but they will still do their best.
“I think that it being split up into sections is going to mess up the whole reason we have routines made with all all aspects of what they want to make it into sections, which will make it harder,” said Dickerson. “I think it won’t weaken our team; it just would make it more difficult with the points and scoring.”
Although this will be a new experience for current and future cheerleaders, it is likely that this new form of cheer won’t be fully active in California for three or four more years, considering that all the teams have to get up to a certain skill level. Some local teams aren't there yet.
RETRACTION: In the December issue, The Swarm reported that cheerleaders would no longer be receiving P.E. credit for cheer. That was incorrect, as cheerleaders will continue to receive P.E. credit.