Imagine telling a baseball team they can play the game, but you are not permitted to use a bat. Imagine informing the football team that this season you can play but will not be allowed to tackle. Imagine playing a basketball game in which you were not allowed to dribble.
On July 27, the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission (WVSSAC) posted new guidelines for the upcoming cheerleading season due to coronavirus. One modification stated “NO stunting for entire season, including all competitions, games, etc.” This caused an uproar from parents and both current and former West Virginia cheerleaders.
Stunting and tumbling are the two most prominent aspects of cheerleading. These two skills combined make an even playing field for competition. If a team lacks tumbling, they could make up for scoring in their stunts. However, by taking away the opportunity to stunt, the teams that lack tumbling skills are put at a severe disadvantage for the regional and state competitions.
Not only will the absence of stunting negatively impact competition, but game days as well. During my three years as a varsity cheerleader, I’ve learned that fans get more excited when cheerleaders stunt.
My best cheerleading memories are stunting on the sidelines at football and basketball games getting the crowd excited. I vividly remember cheering a football game and several members of the student section yelling, “Do a pyramid! Do a pyramid!” Stunting makes game days more fun for both the cheerleaders and the crowd.
Many claim that taking away stunting continues to limit West Virginia cheerleaders’ skills compared to those in other states. West Virginia is the only state whose cheerleaders do not practice and compete on blue mats, and therefore cannot compete at the national level.
Due to not being on blue mats, West Virginia cheerleaders can’t do full-twisting layouts, double downs or basket tosses, all of which are common college-level skills. Because of the lack of proper mats and now no stunting, West Virginia high school cheerleaders are being put at an extreme disadvantage for selection for college level cheer teams.
Cheerleading is a sport in West Virginia. Taking away one of the most important aspects of cheerleading is only going to hurt the athletes.
Whether it’s competition, game days, or an athlete trying to further their cheerleading career, the lack of stunting this season will have an effect.