‘Let us cheer’: High school cheer teams protest California’s new COVID-19 youth sports guidelines that exclude them

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The Ayala High School cheer team in Chino Hills demonstrated in front of their school district office Thursday after learning just hours before they were set to perform, that cheer was cancelled due to an update in the state’s COVID-19 guidelines.

Sideline cheer and other supporting groups, like band and drumline, are not allowed at sporting events, according to new rules released by the California Department of Public Health on Tuesday .

“Let us cheer! Let us cheer!” the Ayala team chanted. “Say it loud, say it clear. All we just want to do is cheer.”

At Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, the cheer team spent the last few weeks in intense training and members say they are disappointed with the new rules.

“A lot of other sports are able to start going to games and starting do a bunch of new things that we haven’t had the chance to,” said Sydney Iorio, a cheerleader at Mater Dei. “I was really excited to go this game today … And I got a text saying that we’re not allowed to go.”

Many are questioning why football teams are allowed to resume activities but cheer teams are not.

“It just doesn’t make sense why football can be touching each other when we’re six feet apart with masks on,” Mater Dei senior Jaycee Mahlum said.

Their head coach, Katie Bowers, agrees.

“I think the biggest message is just that you don’t matter,” Bowers said. “We’ve been doing our best to follow all the guideline and we feel like we did a great job doing it. So today was just very upsetting for me as a coach to have to be the one to relay the message to these kids.”

Parents says they have been writing letters to the governor’s office, demanding that the sport be allowed.

“Cheer is a CIF-certified sport and we are not treated like that,” Kayden Roberts, a junior at the school, said. “It’s discriminating, it’s unfair.”

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