Hi. My name is Thomas Moore and I am a cheer dad. And a cheer dad is basically just like a soccer mom except I’m not a mom, I’m a dad, and I take my daughter to her competitive cheer practices and events instead of soccer games.
It may seem a little odd that I’m involved and not my wife since cheerleading is largely a female dominated sport. But my wife often works late, and I typically do not. As a result she’s always handled the family’s morning duties including breakfast, ensuring the kids are appropriately dressed, and delivering them to school. I’ve always handled afternoons and evenings. That means tracking homework assignments (including the dreaded school projects) and taking my kids to whatever activity they’re into. Right now it means taking my daughter to cheer practice.
So, what is there to confess about being a cheer dad?
It’s nothing weird or conspiratorial. It’s just that despite taking Lauren to practice Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, despite getting her to the chiropractor, physical rehab, orthopedic surgeon and the emergency room to deal with injuries, despite driving to competitions all around Las Vegas and Southern California, despite all that and more…I have to confess: I just don’t care about cheer.
I’ll prove it. During their routines the girls do any number of gymnastic tumbling stunts with names like layouts, fulls and back tucks. I’ve been watching these things for a year and half now, longer in fact, if you count Lauren’s time in gymnastics. But after all these years I have zero idea which one is which. Then there are the pyramid stunts competitive cheerleaders do. Typically, two or more girls hold another girl up in the air while she changes position or jumps around. There’s a term for each of those moves. But put a gun to my head and ask me to name them and you’d have to shoot me because I couldn’t tell you what they’re called.
More than a few times I’ve been sitting in the viewing room at the gym with the other cheer dads–actually it’s pretty much all moms–and been asked questions for which I have no answer.
“What do you think about that stunt?” one will ask. I’ll look up from my book and mumble a reply, “I dunno. Great I guess.”
Another asks, “It seems like Suzy’s stunt group (I’ll use Suzy because there isn’t one on the team…I hope.) isn’t strong enough on the left, don’t you think?” All I can offer is a blank stare.
And I have nothing to contribute to the constant discussion about travel arrangements. When I’m asked what hotel we’re staying at I have to admit, I don’t know. I get ’em there and get ’em back. Someone else (hi honey!) handles hotel bookings.
Yes, I’d have to say that little viewing room is where my apathy becomes apparent. It’s a small cramped room full of folding chairs. There’s a large window looking into the gym at one end and the world’s most uncomfortable couch at the other. The other cheer dads (OK moms) sit and discuss the coaches, the girls, the competitions, who’s injured, how some people don’t come to practice, etc. etc etc. I usually have very little to add.
It’s not that I’m completely disengaged. I sometimes talk to the women about the gym and the team. I don’t want to be standoffish. And it’s not like I remove myself because the parents act like the cast of some catty television reality show. They don’t. For the most part they are thoughtful, caring parents taking a close interest in their daughter’s lives.
And I’m certainly not blase about the competitions. There’s no other word to describe them but spectacular because the girls are amazing. I love watching my daughter and the other girls perform and compete. If you’ve never seen competitive cheer, Google it. You’ll be blown away (I’ll offer a full description of the competitions in another post).
It’s just that the mechanics of cheer, the tactics and strategy behind the competitions, the music, the who’s better, who is worse, all of that I just don’t find very interesting. In fact, there are really only three things I care about when it comes to my daughter’s cheer team. They are three questions I ask about any activity she’s involved in:
1. Are you being treated with respect?
2. Are you learning something from this or getting something positive?
3. Are you enjoying yourself?
If she answers no to any one of those questions, that’s when I take a deep interest.
I suspect a lot of dads are like this; they can be impressed with their daughter’s dance team or theater group or, like me, with competitive cheer without really caring about dance or theater or cheer. I don’t need to know what a layout is, but I do want to see every layout my daughter does. And I want her to be happy. Other than that…cheer is a big yawn.
There is one aspect of cheer I’m really curious about and it concerns other cheer dads (and this time I really do mean the fathers). There are some girls at the gym who have mothers I see at every competition but always without the dad. What kind of dad has a girl working her heart out competing at something she loves and is never there to see it?
I don’t know if I’ll ever figure that one out.
About the Author
Thomas Moore is a blogger, husband and father. Check out his website at thomasdonaldmoore.com.