The conversation about redistributing small gym and large gym numbers to level out the playing field of the all-star industry began two years ago at USASF regional meetings. Today, it has become USASF’s newest initiative for the 2015-2016 season.
USASF will assign gyms in Division I or Division II—previously large gym and small gym, respectively—based on the program’s total number of traditional All Star and All Star Prep athletes. A Division I gym has 126 or more traditional All Star and All Star Prep cheerleaders enrolled in their program, while a Division II gym has 125 or less. (Exhibition teams, crossover athletes, special needs teams and dance teams do not count toward the total.) As with last season, a gym that increases above the cap during the competition season—such as with the addition of prep athletes—will automatically move to Division I.
“This little baby step is the perfect first step,” says USASF board member Morton Bergue, who has been instrumental in this discussion. “The industry has really grown over the years; within five years, the number of gyms in this country has doubled.”
Division I (large gym) and Division II (small gym) isn’t an entirely new idea in the industry. Last season, for example, a small gym was defined as any facility with 75 or less traditional All Star athletes enrolled in a program. Now that cap of 75 will jump to 125 and include all-star prep athletes in the 2015-2016 season. The main reason for the cap increase is the recent rapid industry growth of small gyms and big-name franchises throughout the US.
“We felt the hardship of the Division II teams that felt the pressure of [competing against] the large gyms,” Bergue says. “Mega gyms are moving out of area—they are everywhere. We needed something to protect Division II gyms that want to compete against like gyms with the same economic field and level of teams.”
USASF cannot regulate or limit business owners from running an organization in a certain matter; however, it can implement and enforce policies to ensure event producers and gym owners follow the rules. Under the new USASF age grid rules, event producers are to split “small team” and “large team” divisions by gym size (Division I and Division II) if 10 or more teams are competing in each category.
“They have to follow the rules as given,” Bergue says, explaining that event producers are subject to a compliance review if someone reports them to USASF for a rule violation.
Individuals who own gyms with multiple locations have two options: 1) registering each location with the USASF separately and thus agreeing not to share athletes between locations, or 2) registering all locations with the USASF under one main/umbrella organization and having the option to share athletes between locations.
Mostly, the biggest change is just a matter of semantics—the name change to Division I and Division II—as well as the change on the dividing line between the two. Other than that, many of these policies have already been in place throughout last season. But Bergue is hopeful that these developments will benefit the industry in a big way long-term, and help align our sport with other team sports that use similar terms (like college sports, etc.).
“I think in the long run when it takes hold, and we start fine-tuning it, it will help us grow,” Bergue says. “USASF wants Division I and Division II to thrive, but it takes time. We are looking toward the future to make everyone happy and successful, and to let people get in the business that is a fair business.”
–Christina Hernandez, CEO of Rah Rah Routines