Nothing to cheer about for CIF’s no Sunday performance rule
Illustration by Accolade artist Erin Lee

“Dig in!”

“Go, fight, win!”

“Who are you yelling for?”

In its second school year of being officially overseen as a California Interscholastic Federation [CIF] sport, cheerleading faces its first major tumble.  Section 500 M. of the CIF bylaws states: “In order to provide at least one (1) day of respite from involvement in interscholastic athletics each week, no interscholastic games or practices of any kind are to be held on Sunday.” The only exception would be for religious reasons — Jewish schools that honor Saturdays as a day of rest could file for a waiver to play on Sundays.

This will prevent any California cheer team from performing live if it were to advance to the Feb. 10 final of the 2019 Universal Cheerleaders Association’s National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Florida. Instead, judges at this event would view a recorded performance, an obvious disadvantage for California cheer squads hoping to win in the final round against any live routines from non-California teams.

CIF officials and Florida championship coordinators need to meet and come up with a reasonable solution so that California teams have an equal chance as those from throughout the nation.

According to a Dec. 4, 2018, Orange County Register article, “hundreds of schools from more than 30 states compete annually” in this Florida tournament. Several top programs in the state such as Whittier’s La Serna and Fontana’s Summit high schools have and plan to be there. They, along with thousands of others in the state, did the right thing in asking CIF to waive its no Sunday rule for Feb. 10 only through a signed petition. It’s important to note that last year, CIF officials did grant a waiver for teams to perform live on a Sunday at this national cheer contest, citing the request as a special circumstance since CIF was overseeing the sport in its first year.

But unfortunately for these cheer squads, the outcome this season is not so cheerful as CIF officials have denied their petition, stubbornly sticking with the no Sunday policy for this school year.

For the rule change to occur, over 1,600 school officials would have to formally discuss and vote on it. In a recent Orange County Register article, one CIF spokeswoman called it an ¨all or nothing¨ deal — the exception would have to include all sports, not just cheer.

This pushes the issue back to the Florida championship coordinators. One idea could be to ask if they can change the dates of the competition from a Friday through Saturday.  

The problem is it would affect cheer squads from more than 30 other states. It would be an inconvenience because they would have to change their competition schedule just to satisfy one state’s no Sunday performance rule. It would also mean missing a school day for those teams from Florida (others farther away fly out to Florida a few days earlier anyway).

The best solution is to get the two sides together after this year’s event and hash out a win-win solution for California cheer squads and championship coordinators. Perhaps the first item on the negotiations table would be allowing California cheer teams to perform live on Saturday in front of the judges.

Hopefully, this can be settled faster than the current government issues over its budget and immigration. It is not worth it for the coaches of California cheer teams to continue this fight or to keep obtaining petitions because ultimately, they are not the ones who can make changes to CIF bylaws or cheer championship schedules. It just seems more reasonable for the ones in charge to get together and solve this problem. That way, the coaches can better make use of their time prepping their teams in their quest for a trophy. That’s definitely worth cheering for.

“Go, fight, win!”

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