In cheerleading, as in any sport, gear and uniforms can cost participants a pretty penny–whether you’re playing at a professional, recreational, or beginner level. Cheerleading can be one of the most costly sports, especially since most schools don’t offer full funding for their sideline cheer squads. When you add in the cost of travel, competition, uniforms, photos, and miscellaneous gear to the already pricy registration and “spirit” fees, you can end up spending close to $1,000 just to get started! With this steep of a start-up rate, the cost alone can steer people away from cheerleading before they even try out. For those that do commit to a cheer team, camps and classes boost the cost ever-higher, which begs the question: is the modern cost of cheer too much?

High school cheerleaders–with little to no revenue coming into their pockets from an after-school job–most likely have to rely on their parents to come up with such funds, and that can put a strain on average-income households. Speaking of strains, cheerleading is a dangerous sport which can result in joint sprains, muscle tears and other medical emergencies that will come unexpectedly and out-of-pocket. Families without good medical insurance are forced to foot the doctor bill, all for the love of the sport.

To add insult to injury, cheerleaders who segue into competitive cheer and All-star teams get hit the hardest. By merely escalating to this level, fees sky-rocket anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 just for gym fees alone! Although expensive, hopefully the sense of camaraderie and the experience of competing nationally will outweigh the initial investment. 

Contrarily, some cheer teams try to help cut down the participation fees through active fundraising. There are several different angles when it comes to raising money for a cheer squad, and making it a team effort always adds fun to a hard situation. Try to focus on what would be the most effective route to engage your community: is your school located in a neighborhood that can benefit from a bake sale? What about challenging your team through an online crowdfunding campaign, with appreciation prizes going to top contributors? Anything helps, and a little creativity can go a long way.

There’s not a lot you can do to get around the predetermined fees, but there are alternative ways to pay them and inexpensive options for gear and uniforms. It all depends on what the sport means to you and if–at the end of the day–the reward of cheer is priceless.

Do you think the cost of cheer is too much? Let us know if you have any tips to help cheerleaders struggling to make ends meet.