Local News

Governor grounds MC cheerleaders

Governor Bill Lee essentially grounded cheerleaders across the state by signing Executive Order 74 last week. An area change.org petition seeks to change that. (File Photo)

STATE NEWS — Last Tuesday definitely didn’t feel like a V-I-C-T-O-R-Y for Moore County cheerleaders.

In an abrupt and final decision with little explanation, Governor Bill Lee cancelled cheerleading for the rest of the 2021 school year and local cheerleaders, cheer moms, cheer sponsors, and other cheer adjacent Moore County folks are not happy.

Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order 74 means that all Moore County schools cheerleading squads will not be allowed to cheer at basketball games for the remainder of the season due to COVID concerns.

The TSSAA says that it approached the governor about allowing cheerleading and dance teams to participate and were told that the “provision was a risk-based decision at this critical time based on the best medical and CDC information and guidance available regarding the spread of COVID-19 primarily through respiratory droplets, with cheerleading posing a particularly high degree of risk because it involves projected voices within a confined indoor space for an extended period of time.”

Cheerleading is a female dominant sport

Many locals were quick to point out the Governor’s decision seemed to wreak with discrimination. Executive Order 74 effectively cancelled cheerleading while permitting two other winter sports, wrestling and basketball, with little explanation.

MCHS cheerleading sponsor, teacher, and senior cheer mom Liza Buchanan stated on her social media page that the move showed that Governor Bill Lee did not care about a female dominant sport such as cheerleading.

“You cannot use COVID-19 as an excuse when there are 30 plus students sitting elbow to elbow in our classrooms, wrestlers are touching, breathing, and sweating all over each other, and basketball players are also touching and breathing on each other,” she stated on her social media page.

Cheerleaders are athletes

Other local cheer moms pointed out that cheerleading is a recognized sport with required strength training, practices, as well as regional, state, and national competitions.

When we reached out to Buchanan to quantify that idea with numbers, she was quick to respond. According to Buchanan her MCHS squad put is about 200 practice hours each year including six hours of stunt safety training, and an annual cheer camp.

“That doesn’t count the private tumbling and stunting lessons that most of our athletes attend weekly,” she said.

Cheerleaders also begin each practice with cardio followed by strength training as well as exercises to increase flexibility.

“We lift humans,” Buchanan stated. “Stunting requires extensive training and specialized skills in order to safely execute stunt sequences. It takes athleticism, grit, and a fearless attitude to succeed as a cheerleader.”

Buchanan also estimates that the total cost to cheer each year per cheerleader is $1877 before fundraisers and donations.

Petitioning the Governor and TSSAA

Following the governor’s announcement, Bonnie Peters of Washington County launched a change.org petition asking Governor Bill Lee and the TSSAA to reverse their decision.

“The governors new order possibly violates Title IX and frankly, sends a very negative message to females athletes,” she state in the petition. “Every sport under TSSAA is currently allowed to participate in the season except cheerleading. Cheers full season is July through basketball. They have already cut away game travel but now they are targeting one sport to suspend. Our cheerleaders had games already cut from 20 to 10. … After today it’s zero.”

Since Peters started the petition, it’s gained over 22,000 signatures. You can sign it by clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated community newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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