People who’ve been around Suburbia for a while know that I didn’t exactly love the idea of DD2 “retiring” from competitive gymnastics last spring. But, I’ve done my best to embrace her new activity–dance squad (called pom squad around these parts).
We made it through 7th-grade football season, which ended for our team with a loss to the eventual regional champions. I have to admit, I’ve even been impressed with how well her team–which is a recreational squad that doesn’t require tryouts–did this year. They came a long way as a group all with very little preteen drama either on the part of the girls or the mothers who serve as sponsors! I’m even quite pleased that DD2 liked it enough to try out for the 8th-grade school squad in the spring.
Ah, tryouts in the spring. I can blame that upcoming challenge for the fact that I found myself at a cheerleading competition on Saturday morning. The girls had the option of continuing on the sqad after the end of football season in order to participate in a competition. With our being a rec squad, the local options became somewhat limited. So, our coaches decided to enter the team in a cheer competition that had a dance division. Not a problem–goal of preparing for competition and getting a feel of what being on a school squad would involve accomplished.
The problem, and, of course, there was a problem, came from the absolute culture shock I experienced upon arriving at the local convention center. The scene could not have been further from what I experienced at gymnastics meets or even when, as a principal, I accompanied the high school squad to national competition. Here I found hundreds of little (and not-so-little) girls running around in midriff-baring uniforms and heavy makeup. And following those girls, I found mothers carrying spirit signs and wearing matching t-shirts, the most telling of which read, “Don’t You Wish You Were One.”
Yes, I know. Cheerleaders are athletes. And, really, I believe that. The tumbling and building skills required for competitive cheerleading take years to master, and the routines require hours of practice time to perfect. What I object to the sexualization of the sport, especially when it comes to putting girls as young as four or five in skimpy uniforms. Last time I checked, a bare tummy had nothing to do with the ability to tumble.
I honestly couldn’t wait to get out of there. Which I did. Just as soon as our squad, dressed in their school-approved uniforms complete with tops that actually meet the skirs, took home first place in their division!