The primary missions of USASF are to promote the safety of the all-star cheer athletes and to help grow the sport. The USASF Board of Directors is charged with establishing policies and procedures consistent with that mission. The Board typically does this through normal operating procedures but has the authority and in fact, the responsibility, to act outside of those normal procedures if they feel a critical situation exists that threatens that mission. This is not unlike professional football that recently instituted a number of emergency measures to address the issue of head trauma and concussions. They felt the safety of their athletes and the long term health of the sport was at risk so they acted very quickly and without following their normal procedures.
During our March 28th Board meeting conference call, a joint presentation of CHEERSPORT, JamBrands and Varsity with an endorsement from Cheer Limited was made to the Board that stated they believe immediate action was needed for the long term interest of all-star cheer and its’ athletes. The proposal was the result of analyzing their own internal data relating to these issues as well as extensive discussions with gym owners, coaches, athletes and parents.
One of the primary concerns related to the negative impact of the increased focus on elite tumbling skills. Most programs report an increase in the number and severity of injuries as the tumbling skills become more difficult. The focus on elite tumbling also restricts the growth of the sport because it limits the type of athletes who can compete. It was agreed among these event producers to use score sheets that maximize tumbling scores at “half plus one” to create a majority. This will allow for more diversity of athletes among all teams. Beyond tumbling recommendations, the group also proposed several changes to the age grid and divisions including establishing a minimum age in all senior divisions. There were various reasons for all the changes but the consensus was that all these changes would enhance the sport and were necessary.
The proposal was accepted by the Board and will take effect for the 2012/2013 season. While the Rules Committee has been charged with writing the specific rules, an outline of the changes is attached in an effort to get the word out as quickly as possible.
A second issue addressed during the Board meeting today was the approval of the attached Image & Appearance Policy and Etiquette. This is in response to the input gathered during the Summer Regional Meetings and a survey conducted during January /February, in which 2,700 USASF members participated, indicating uniform, choreography, and make up issues needed to be addressed to enhance the legitimacy of the sport.