'It is like a slap in the face.' Parents upset that cheerleaders and dancers aren't allowed at games

Julie Wilson and Lily Wilson
Posted at 5:30 PM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 22:25:30-05

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some parents in Williamson County are upset that wrestlers and basketball players can compete, but cheerleaders and dancers are no longer allowed at games.

They started the indoor season with socially distant routines. "The guidelines were given to the kids and the coaches, and our athletes were doing a great job following the protocols that were in place for them," Kim Stinson said.

Cheerleaders at Centennial High School wear masks at a basketball game in Williamson County, Tennessee.

Stinson and Gretchen Rauter have daughters who cheer at Centennial High School. In December, dancers and cheerleaders found out they were no longer allowed at games due to COVID-19 concerns following an amended executive order from Governor Bill Lee.

"It’s confusing," Rauter said. The order allows grandparents and faculty members to come to games and matches, and it doesn't impact other sports. “And that’s where it feels uncomfortable," Rauter said.

Julie Wilson's daughter, Lily, is a senior cheerleader at Paige High School. She thinks it's hypocritical because sports like wrestling are high contact. "So it is like a slap in the face," Wilson said, “In our opinion, the cheerleaders and dance teams are a more COVID friendly activity than the sports. I mean they’re right on top of each other, they’re sweating, they’re spitting, they’re yelling, they’re screaming, the cheerleaders and dancers have already shown that they can socially distance and still do their sport."

The TSSAA issued a statement which said:

“TSSAA inquired about allowing Cheerleaders and Dance Teams to participate, but the amended Order maintains the temporary suspension of cheerleading and dance at contests. Our understanding from the Governor’s Office is that this provision was a risk-based decision at this critical time based on the best medical and CDC information and guidance available regarding the spread of COVID-19 primarily through respiratory droplets, with cheerleading posing a particularly high degree of risk because it involves projected voices within a confined indoor space for an extended period of time.​”

Wilson said, "I read the order and it doesn’t specifically ban cheerleaders but the TSSAA says it does. So I just would like clarification on that, and I would like for them to consider allowing the cheerleaders to finish their sport."

In a YouTube video, Williamson County Superintendent Jason Golden said cheer and dance teams have not been an issue when it comes to COVID-19 quarantines compared to other sports. He believes they can safely have cheerleaders and dancers at games in some capacity.

We reached out to Governor Lee's office but did not hear back.