Florida Youth Football Teams, Cheerleaders Banned From Competition Over Impromptu Practice Session

| by Jonathan Wolfe

Over 300 youth football players and cheerleaders from Brandon, Florida have been disqualified from their upcoming conference championship games because a handful of the team’s cheerleaders were found performing a routine outside of designated practice hours.

The teams were disqualified when video surfaced on Facebook of the cheerleaders practicing one of their routines during a barbecue at assistant cheer coach Maria Serrano’s house. The Tri-County Youth Football and Cheer Council voted 14-0 to ban the teams from participating in the upcoming championship.

Brandon Bears Athletic Director Brian Jones is appealing the ban, saying the video was showing an impromptu cheer session, not an organized practice. Jones notes that cheerleaders are 11 and 12 year old children, who, by nature, are active and enjoy spur of the moment cheering.

The girls, Jones says, “are cheering constantly. They cheer in cars. They cheer in the shower. They cheer when they walk around a store. They’re going to cheer.”

Jones says the girls began cheering when a parent at the barbecue turned on a song from one of their recent routines. The girls then decided to perform their routine for attending parents.

The Tri-County Youth Football and Cheer Council released a statement on the ban.

“While the practice rule may be viewed as petty by some, we are very serious about teams gaining a competitive advantage outside the approved practice time,” the statement said. “The penalty for violating the rule is removal of the entire organization from post season play for football and cheerleading.

“The Brandon Bears have been found in violation of the (conference) practice rule by conducting a practice at a home of a coach outside the approved practice parameters.”

The council defines practice as “a gathering of a team or individuals to exercise or study football or cheerleading.”

Unless the Brandon Bears’ appeal is successful, the areas two youth football teams and cheerleaders will be nixed from their upcoming championship competitions. Jones doesn’t seem very optimistic that the council will overturn their decision.

“This rule that is considered harsh was approved by all in the conference in a 14-0 vote.’’ He said. “I don’t think [an overruling] is likely.”

What do you think? Is the ban appropriate or is the council unfairly punishing children for a harmless performance? Let us know in the comments section below.

Source: Tampa Tribune, Bay News 9