Starting from Scratch: Competition at Competitions

I would like to see the average number of teams in a division increase to 10-12 teams and have divisions with only one team become a less than a 1 in 100 occurrence. I have thought of a couple of ideas to move towards this that can be used together or separately. The reason I want increase the average division size is to emphasize the “Competitive” part of Competitive Cheerleading. The way things are now we are giving our athletes a place where they can instantly be successful and champions instead of giving them a place where they can learn to be successful, but making them work in order to be successful. I think this is a major mistake by our industry. Increasing division size would also make Cheerleading more comparable to tournaments in mainstream sports. I can’t think of a single sports tournament I watch that has fewer than 8 teams competing for the same title, and most have many more.

I’ll use the International All Levels Championship as an example. All Levels is an event in which teams compete at 5 regional sites, then the top teams of the regional sites are judged against each other for the Grand Championship. It is one of the 2 major year end events for Level 1 to 4.2 teams and had over 650 cheer teams compete this year. Even an event of this size averaged fewer than 3 teams per division at the regional sites, with only 2 out of over 250 divisions having double digit teams. The average per division when treating all of the regional sites as a single event was under 9 teams per division. These numbers didn’t factor in Levels 5 or 6 because these teams tend to lead towards Worlds.

Change the Default Divisions

I would change the default divisions offered at a competition to one division per age/level combination. Teams would register for events by selecting their age group and level, along with providing the number of girls and guys on the team. Once there were enough teams to make a logical split into divisions with at least 3 team each the division could split. If there are 5 or fewer teams of the same age/level combination they would be remain in one division. A potential consequence of this change would be having teams with significantly different compositions, team size and number of males, competing against each other, but I think the benefits of having competition in each division outweigh the disadvantages, especially given the cost of participating in All*Star Cheerleading.

If this idea is implemented without implementing the next idea, the best way to split divisions would need to be evaluated. I’m not certain of the best way, so I’ll set up a scenario and ask a question. Six Senior Level 5 teams register for a competition:

  • Team A – Small Senior – 20 Members, 0 Males
  • Team B – Small Limited Coed – 20 Members, 4 Males
  • Team C – Large Senior – 36 Members, 0 Males
  • Team D – Large Limited Coed – 36 Members, 4 Males
  • Team E – Large Semi-Limited Coed – 36 Members, 12 Males
  • Team F – Large Unlimited Coed – 36 Members, 24 Males

With the restriction of at least 2 teams needing to be in each division, if you were splitting these teams in 2 divisions, which teams would you put together? If you were splitting these teams into 3 divisions, which teams would you put together? More importantly, why would you split them the way you chose?

Single Team Size

I would drop small and large division sizes in favor of a single division with a maximum number of participants of 24.

Reduce the Number of Levels and Divisions

I would reduce the number of levels, thereby reducing the total number of divisions. More specifically I would make it so what is currently Levels 1-5 fit into 3 levels. A potential consequence of this change would be a reduction in the number of champions, which could lead to a reduction in the number of teams competing. I don’t believe this will happen because I remember a time without levels and Competitive Cheerleading still grew to a point where enough people felt levels were needed.

Reducing the number of levels would mean the rules need to be adjusted. When adjusting them I would simplify them by making it so running and standing tumbling permitted the same skills and stunts and pyramids were listed together, specifying which skills need braces, along with the number and types of braces needed.