Salute to Cheer Dads
This is a shout out to the unsung heroes of the cheer world. You are the loyal support group of the industry, from the athletes who perform on mats and fields to the massive corporations that manufacture uniforms and events. You endure countless trials with the patience of Mother Theresa. You follow blindly but bravely, knowing not where the path will take you nor understanding what in the world is going on. You are the pack mule, the ATM, the shoulder to cry on and the chauffeur. You have probably already guessed who I am talking to…you are the Cheer Dad!
Before going all the way into this tribute I need to make it clear that most of these accolades also apply to Cheer Moms. However, forgive me if this is gender stereotyping, it is different for the Dads. The Moms are more numerous. The Moms are more “into it.” The Moms ban together in matching, cute outfits, laughing and bonding (or b*tching and complaining, depending on the individuals) through practices and competitions alike. The Cheer Dad is alone. He sits in the car in the parking lot or the back row of the waiting area. He is viewed with curiosity but rarely acceptance from the Cheer Moms. It is for this reason that I give him the special honor of this praise!
First and foremost, you (and the Moms) provide the checks and credit cards that keep the all star gyms’ doors open across the country. You support the college kids who teach cheer camps with your fees. You show up at car washes and hawk baked goods to your coworkers at the office to raise money for the uniforms, shoes and warm-ups that adorn ESPN (usually in the early afternoon on a Sunday between the end of March Madness and the beginning of the NFL season). You fill the coffers of the mega-cheer companies with competition fees, spectator fees ($20 for a bleacher seat, seriously?), “spirit-grams,” concessions, travel packages, pictures, videos and the Official Event Sweatshirt with the names of every team at the event in microscopic letting that will probably decay after the first washing. That’s right Cheer Dads, you provide the Billions of dollars (with a B) that have fed the cheer industry over the last decade and made it what it is today.
Secondly, you provide cheerleaders, coaches and other cheer professionals with the greatest of all gifts…SILENCE. You do not complain at tryouts. At parents meetings, you show up on time, leave on time and do not ask questions throughout. You do not have strong opinions about which girl should be the point flyer or toe touch. You do not complain about the competition T-shirt with the pink rhinestone that you are asked to wear. When the team finishes in last place, you do not threaten to take your daughter to the program down the street (who was founded by the instructor who got fired from your gym last year). Cheer Dad, you are like the medieval monk who has taken an oath of silence. Loose lips sink ships is your motto. To you, silence is golden (with glitter and a bow).
Finally, you are the defender of the realm. When the cheerleaders throw down their 50 cheer bags and run off to the warm up area, it is your feet they throw them down on. You summon the strength of a titan and scoop up all of your teams possessions and enter the arena (making sure to keep your competition wrist band visible as you pass the gate -$20 well spent). You somehow manage to sprawl across 3 rows of bleachers and doggedly defend them from would-be poachers sent by other programs. That’s right. No one will steal your prime real estate for viewing your teams 2 1/2 minutes on the mat.
For all of these reasons and so many other, I thank and salute you, the Cheer Dad!