It’s become almost commonplace to read about the cancelation of a football program due to dwindling participation, but that’s almost to be expected for a sport which requires 11 players on each side of the ball. But cheerleading? That’s a sport which would only stop in the case of a far more precipitous decline.
That’s exactly what’s been seen at one upstate New York high school.
As reported by the Watertown Daily Times, the Massena (N.Y.) High School cheerleading team was canceled just before the winter season kicked off, with school officials citing a decline from 12 members to just four following the conclusion of the football campaign.
“It does come down to a lack of interest for this season anyway. We only had four students that signed up for the winter season cheerleading,” Massena Superintendent Patrick H. Brady told the Daily Times. “We had 12 or so cheerleaders in the fall. That was a good squad.”
A 66 percent decline in participation is precisely the kind of thing that would justify the sudden shutdown of any program, but the drop is apparently not confined to cheerleading alone in the Massena district; the school’s football participation was also down.
The hope on the part of Massena officials is that this decline was a one-time shift, brought on in part by the sudden departure of the team’s coach in the fall; Massena officials had already appointed a replacement and three assistants for the winter season, a group that would have given the team a 1-to-1 coach-to-athlete ratio.
“We hope that it’s not going to be a trend,” Brady told the Daily Times. “Athletics is very important. It’s a healthy activity. It connects kids to school. It teaches teamwork and cooperation and a lot of great social skills. We’ll continue to encourage participation.”