I recently wrote Industry Problem #1, touching on the need for the industry to increase the average number of teams per division by increasing the number of teams, decreasing the number of divisions, or some combination of both. That article focused on decreasing the number of divisions so I’m writing this one to touch on increasing the number of teams. Increasing the number of teams in a positive way would come from increasing the number of athletes participating in cheerleading. How can this be accomplished?
My first thought is to make more non-cheerleaders aware of cheerleading. I would start with young kids and try to get them involved with cheerleading before they get involved with another activity. Most of the parents I know are going to put their kids in an extra curricular activity, so it’s a matter of making them choose cheerleading over activities. What can we do to help this? Step 1 is making parents aware of cheerleading and the benefits of it. Right now it seems like most cheerleading information and advertisements are placed in cheerleading magazine, but who subscribes to these? The answer is people already involved in cheerleading. Is this helping cheerleading grow? What if some advertising was placed in parenting magazines to make parents not involved in cheerleading aware of the activity?
The question is how to pay for it. Would the USASF members be willing to chip in and launch a campaign in parenting magazines or something similar? Would promoting cheerleading in general lead to enough new participants joining gyms that will eventually go to competitions and buy uniforms to make the campaign beneficial to the industry? I don’t know if it would, but I think it’s something worth considering.
On the local level is there a way to get gyms to spend more time and money trying to get new people involved in cheerleading instead of getting existing cheerleaders to switch to their gym? Would gyms be willing to work together to increase the size of the cheerleading pie assuming they would all benefit from it? Would the gyms be willing to set their differences aside to try to benefit everyone?
I may be oversimplifying things, but we won’t grow as an industry unless we start making more people aware we exist.