Hanover Park High School in New Jersey has reportedly announced a new policy that requires everyone who tries out for the cheerleading squad to make the team — all in the name of being “inclusive.”
The team held tryouts last month. According to an article in the Daily Mail, a parent complained about his or her child not having made the team, leading the school to change its policy.
A statement from the school explains that the school had initially divided cheerleaders into three merit-based squads — Black (the best), Gold, and White; for the school’s colors — but would now be dividing them simply into underclassmen and upperclassmen teams.
“The Hanover Park cheerleading program is not competitive and with this transition, they only will be supporting and encouraging more participation, which is Hanover Park’s goal,” the statement read.
“To quote from the Guidelines for Cheerleading at Hanover Park, ‘The emphasis of cheerleading within the Regional High School District shall be upon group involvement rather than featuring the performance of a single or select individual or individuals,’” it continued.
According to the statement, “every participant, regardless of squad, has always received a varsity letter.”
As the Daily Mail reports, several students and parents were upset about the change.
“I tried my hardest, and now everything’s going away, all because of one child who did not make the team, and a parent complained, so now all my hard work has been thrown out the window,” one student, Stephanie Krueger, tearfully said during a board of education meeting.
Now, I was cut from the cheerleading team in middle school. I got cut because I was bad — so bad, in fact, that I really had some nerve to waste everyone’s time by trying out in the first place. In high school, I never was able to make varsity cheerleading. In fact, I’ve been rejected from almost every single athletic endeavor that I’ve ever attempted, and do you know what? I think the policy at Hanover Park is ridiculous.
Seriously — if you’re not good enough to make the team, then you shouldn’t make the team. It’s not unfair. In fact, it’s the opposite. What’s fair is for talent and skill to be rewarded. Our society is supposed to be a meritocracy; that’s how it works. I agree with the students who were upset about how including everyone equally, regardless of skill, diminishes their own accomplishments. It would be a huge disappointment to actually work hard enough to make the top cheerleading squad, only to find out that your hard work had made no difference. Does everyone, regardless of GPA, get a valedictorian medal? No, and so everyone, regardless of athletic ability, should not be getting a varsity letter. After all, giving them away to everyone renders those should-be-coveted letters completely meaningless. (I understand that the everyone-gets-a-varsity-letter was an existing policy and not a new one; however, it’s still absurd enough for me to have to say so.)
Inclusiveness is great and all, but it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for reality.
There’s nothing wrong with being bad at cheerleading. I’m bad at it, and my life has still managed to go reasonably well. In a way, it’s better for the students who aren’t good at cheerleading to just get cut, because then they can spend their time focusing on other pursuits. For example: When my own cheerleading dreams died, I joined mock trial, and I actually had some success. Nerdy or not, it was definitely much better for me to participate in an activity that aligned with my strengths than it was for me to waste my time somersaulting around a football field because I couldn’t do a cartwheel.
What’s more, I never would have wanted my mom or dad to humiliate me by calling the school to complain about my not making a team — I understood that my not making a team was because I didn’t happen to be good enough to make that team. I knew that I didn’t deserve it, and I was able to accept that and live my life anyway. The fact that a student reportedly had her mom or dad call to complain, to me, reveals a sense of entitlement that knows no bounds. We have a lot of rights in this country, but the right to cheerlead is not one of them — and it appears that at least one student did not seem to understand that.
Inclusiveness is great and all, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be used as a substitute for reality. Making the cheer team even if you’re bad at cheerleading shouldn’t make you feel any better about yourself, because it doesn’t change the fact that you’re still bad at cheerleading. Pretending that that’s not the reality isn’t going to help anyone — it’s just going to keep students from pursuing endeavors where they might have real talent and be able to achieve real success.