For those who have met me, this might be a surprising confession, but here goes.
I was a high-school cheerleader.
No, not a recreational-type pom-pom waver. I was entrenched in the highly athletic world of competitive cheerleading, death-defying stunts and all. In fact, my sister is now varsity coach at my old high school—a place where there are more championship trophies for cheerleading in the lobby display cases than there are for any other sport. By far. I know, it sounds weird. But believe me: As members of the only team that consistently won stuff, my teammates and I would become absolutely incensed when people didn’t take us seriously. And there were many who just didn’t get it.
Fortunately, these days, cheerleading is getting a little more respect. Yes, the reason the whole activity exists at all is to provide support to other athletic teams. However, it has evolved so much it’s not only a fixture on ESPN, but in the tradition of “Rudy,” “Hoosiers” and “The Mighty Ducks,” it even has its own movie (“Bring it On” … yes, I went there).
To further cement its sport status, it’s now becoming a viable avenue for business and marketing initiatives. You might not see a cheerleader shilling for Nike anytime soon, but each ESPN event has sponsors and each team has wardrobe, prop and other competition needs that must be filled (this is where you come in).
I just recently got a press release from Boxercraft regarding their 2009 cheer catalog, and I’m so thrilled the promotional industry is recognizing this sport as the next great place to do business. Regardless of your personal position on cheerleading, it’s pretty impossible to deny that opportunities abound for distributors and suppliers alike.
Three cheers for money!
• USA Today—Cheerleading in the USA: A Sport and an Industry