Every season, the conversation in all-star cheerleading revolves around Cheerleading Worlds bid competitions. Their competition schedule dictates much of the chatter throughout the season. From the first competitions in December to the heavy-hitting nationals in February and March, Worlds bid competitions have always played an important role in our sport.
We spend a lot of time thinking about these competitions. We also spend a lot of time thinking about how cheerleading is largely owned by a single, private entity. Over the past few years, Varsity has not so quietly acquired a significant number of competition event companies, specifically those that offer a Cheerleading Worlds bid event. Before this season kicks off, we wanted to compare how many of these important Cheerleading Worlds bid events are run by Independent Event Producers and how many are run by Varsity. So, let’s get started.
A Changing Landscape
First, it’s important to note that the Cheerleading Worlds is not a Varsity-owned event like the Summit or D2 Summit. The IASF and USASF host the Cheerleading Worlds every year and the notion has always been that it operates independently of a single event producer.
In order to attend the Cheerleading Worlds, you have to obtain a bid (duh). And to obtain a bid, you have to compete at a Cheerleading Worlds bid event (also duh). With all the ~information~ and conversation swirling around about Stay-to-Play and bid season just a couple months away, we wanted to take a look at how many bids are being awarded by independent event producers and Varsity. While it is not surprising, it is a little shocking.
A couple of the latest event companies to join Varsity for the 2018-2019 season include Champion Spirit Group and Mardi Gras Spirit Events. With the addition of those events, Varsity now controls more than 80% of all the Cheerleading Worlds bids that will be awarded during the 2018-2019 season.
Fast Facts About Cheerleading Worlds Bid Events
- There are 42 Cheerleading Worlds bid events this season.
- 9 of them are independent
- 33 are Varsity owned
- This means that independent event producers only make up 21.4% of Cheerleading Worlds events.
Beyond that, we looked at how many bids each of those events control.
- Independent event producers will award 15.75% of at-large and full paid bids
- Varsity will award 84.25% of at-large and full paid bids.
- Once you throw the extra non-tumbling bids in there, independents will award 16.31% of all bids and Varsity will award 83.69% of all bids.
Why Does It Matter?
Because Varsity awards such a large percentage of bids, there is no doubt that they play a major role at the Cheerleading Worlds and within USASF, IASF, and USA Cheer.
This is not to say that all Varsity events are bad, because that would be a flat out lie. They produce some of the best events in the country (think NCA and CHEERSPORT Nationals). But that’s not to say it’s all great either.
As we mentioned above, Cheerleading Worlds bid competitions play a major role in the sport as a whole. It’s what people pay attention to and it’s the easiest way to keep track of the best programs and teams. Without them, cheerleading would be much different. So, when one company controls more than 80% of those events, they get a lot of say in how we experience cheerleading – from the hotels we stay in, to the videos we’re allowed to post, to the rules we have to follow.
For example, if you were living and breathing in the all-star cheerleading industry last season, you know that Varsity implemented a strict video policy that doesn’t allow anyone to take a video for “commercial” purposes or use live stream services. These video policies have made it impossible for performances to live on YouTube, but instead, live behind paywalls. The videos are so strict, in fact, that a team could get disqualified because of it. That’s a pretty big deal.
That single video rule has fundamentally changed how people experience cheerleading. If you ask what first got them interested in cheerleading, it was probably a YouTube video. The controversy around videos has died down quite a bit, but it is a major change (and one that seems ridiculous considering this is a youth sport).
Or take Stay to Play, a program which requires participants and their families to book their hotel rooms through a company who negotiates and controls group rates. I have never seen an issue come up so many times in such a short period of times as I have during this offseason. Not only do nightly rates continue to climb, but there are complaints that some room blocks have filled up completely or were made available to certain programs before others. Nearly every single Varsity competition requires Stay to Play (and so do some independents). The cost of cheerleading is already higher than ever, and this is just another example of additional expenses. Not to mention athlete participation fees and spectator entrance fees.
When one company has the ability to control so much, it puts a lot in jeopardy – from your wallet to the fundamental rules that you perform on the mat.
There are still amazing independent event producers out there (hi JAMZ!), who produce one-of-a-kind Worlds bid events. If I was a program director or owner, I would be doing what I could to support them. Here’s a list of every Cheerleading Worlds bid competition and whether they’re independent or not.
|Dates||Varsity? Yes/No||Company Name||Event Name|
|December 1-2, 2018||Yes||Nation’s Choice||Holiday Classic|
|December 1-2, 2018||Yes||Spirit Celebration||Spirit Celebration Christmas Classic|
|December 8-9, 2018||No||American Spirit Championships||Central National Finals|
|December 8-9, 2018||No||Cheer Tech||Spirit Nationals|
|December 8- 9, 2018||Yes||World Spirit Federation||WSF All Star Cheer & Dance Championship|
|December 8-9, 2018||Yes||All Star Challenge||Battle Under the Big Top|
|December 15-16, 2018||No||GMCE||Royal RumbleSuper Nationals|
|December 15-16, 2018||Yes||Encore Championships||Encore Championships – Houston|
|December 15-16, 2018||Yes||The American Championships||The American Grand|
|December 15-16, 2018||Yes||America’s Best Championships||AB National Championship|
|January 12-13, 2019||No||Elite Cheer Companies||Red Fox Championships|
|January 12-13, 2019||Yes||Spirit Cheer||Beast of the East|
|January 19-20, 2019||Yes||Golden State Spirit Association||GSSA Championship|
|January 19-20, 2019||Yes||Universal Spirit (Spirit of Hope)||Spirit of Hope Nationals|
|January 19-20, 2019||Yes||JAMfest||JAMfest Cheer Super Nationals|
|January 19-20, 2019||Yes||Mardi Gras Spirit Events||Mardi Gras Extravaganza|
|January 26-27, 2019||Yes||All Things Cheer||International Starz Championships|
|January 26-27, 2019||No||Champion Cheer Central, Inc.||Hard Rockin National Cheer & Dance Champ|
|January 26-27, 2019||Yes||Athletic Championships||Athletic Championships-Providence|
|February 2-3, 2019||Yes||Spirit Unlimited||Battle at the Boardwalk Nationals|
|February 2-3, 2019||Yes||Spirit Sports||Duel in the Desert|
|February 2-3, 2019||No||Cheer America Championships||Cheer America National Championship|
|February 9-10, 2019||No||Cheer and Dance Extreme||Mid Atlantic Nationals|
|February 9-10, 2019||Yes||Champion Spirit Group||CSG Super Nationals|
|February 9-10, 2019||Yes||American Cheerleaders Association||ACA All Star Championship|
|February 15-17, 2019||No||JAMZ||JAMZ All Star Nationals|
|February 23-24, 2019||Yes||COA Cheer & Dance||COA Midwest All Star National Champ|
|February 23-24, 2019||Yes||CHEERSPORT||CHEERSPORT|
|March 1-3, 2019||Yes||NCA||NCA All-Star Nationals|
|March 9-10, 2019||Yes||Aloha Productions||Aloha Spirit Championships|
|March 9-10, 2019||Yes||GLCC||The Showdown Grand Nationals|
|March 9-10, 2019||Yes||Spirit Festival||
Spirit Fest All Star Cheer and Dance Nationals
|March 9-10, 2019||Yes||Pac West Spirit Group||Pac West Nationals|
|March 9-10, 2019||Yes||UCA||
UCA International All Star Cheerleading Championship
|March 9-10, 2019||Yes||Coastal Corporation||Battle at the Capitol|
|March 16-17, 2019||Yes||United Spirit Association||USA All Star Championships|
|March 16-17, 2019||No||Worldwide Spirit Assoc.||WSA Grand Nationals|
|March 16-17, 2019||Yes||Mid-Atlantic Cheer||Mid Atlantic Championships|
|March 16-17, 2019||Yes||Cheer LTD.||Cheer LTD Nationals at Canam|
|March 23-24, 2018||Yes||American Cheer and Dance Academy||Reach the Beach All Star Nationals|
|March 30-31, 2019||Yes||One Up Championships||One Up Nationals|
|April 6-7, 2019||Yes||American Cheer Power||Midwest National Championship|