University Interscholastic League
University Interscholastic League

Spirit Safety Frequently Asked Questions

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Is a cheerleading or spirit program considered a“sport” or UIL athletic activity?
The UIL Legislative Council approved a pilot program for Spirit in 2015. This program is not included in the Constitution and Contest Rules at this time. Therefore, it is not designated as an Athletic, Music or Fine Arts Program. Cheer is athletic in nature, and it has many safety requirements currently utilized in the UIL athletic programs. The question as to whether an activity is considered a sport is left to the discretion of the local school district.  The focal point continues to be centered on safety awareness, current NFHS Spirit Rules and coaches’ education specific to cheerleading activities.
How are cheerleading team and spirit squad members currently identified if they are not considered as a participant under the UIL athletic policies?
Students participating on cheerleading teams or spirit squads that support UIL activities are currently identified as an extracurricular participant. The primary focus of a UIL school cheerleading program is to support their school athletic activities and to create a sense of school unity through spirited student-lead performances.
Why is the UIL hosting a Game Day contest without sanctioning cheerleading as an athletic activity?
The Game Day pilot program raises the awareness levels regarding cheer activities, while it also allows the cheerleading participants an opportunity to showcase their skills and gain recognition of their role in leadership activities in school.
Is this pilot program a trial or will it be a permanent event for the future?
The currently identified pilot program has occurred as a trial effort and an opportunity to collect information. There will be future opportunities for superintendents and school personnel to provide feedback to the UIL in order to determine the future of the pilot program.
Does the parent residency rule apply to cheerleading team members in order to compete?
No. The varsity athletics parent residency rule does not apply to cheerleading team or spirit squad members. This rule only applies to the participants in the UIL-sanctioned athletic activities.
Are all schools required to participate?
No. The spirit contest pilot program is optional as are all other UIL extracurricular activities.
What are the eligibility requirements for a participant school in this contest?
The school must be a current UIL member school in good standing. A registration process and associated fee will be required, and that detailed information will be released as it becomes available.
What are the eligibility requirements for a student participant?
Each participant must meet eligibility requirements defined in the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules, Section 400 and No Pass/No Play regulations.
Does the school's cheerleading coach/sponsor need to be a full-time employee in order to coach and instruct a cheerleading team or spirit squad?
No. The local school district has the discretion over who will be designated to serve as the cheerleading coach or sponsor.
Can a school hire a cheer coach and allow them to coach their students in the summer or in a non-school program?
Yes. Cheerleading coaches and sponsors will be allowed to instruct the participants anytime during the school year with local district approval.  During the regular academic school year, a school coach is subject to the eight hours of practice limitation per school week.
Can the school coach or sponsor transport and supervise a cheerleading team at a cheerleading summer camp with an overnight stay?
Yes. The local school district may allow a cheerleading team or spirit squad to attend an overnight camp.
What training needs to be completed to become a designated cheer coach or sponsor for their school district?
Coaches and sponsors of cheerleading and spirit programs must complete the following education and training requirements:
• AED & CPR Certification
• UIL Concussion Education
• Cheer Specific Safety Course
• UIL Rules Compliance Program through Register My Athlete:

•UIL Safety Training for Extracurricular Activities
•Spirit Specific Module

Do cheerleaders require a UIL physical for participation?
No. The UIL physical exam and medical history form is not currently required for participation in cheerleading. Any requirement of a physical exam or a medical history would be at the discretion of the local school district administration.
Are the parents and cheerleading participants required to sign the UIL Concussion Acknowledgement form?
Yes. The school must annually require the parents and cheerleading team members to sign the UIL Concussion Acknowledgement Form.
How will the spirit pilot program coincide with smaller conference schools where students are shared with many activities?
A schedule will be created that is sensitive to the participants with commitment to multiple activities.  The smaller conferences will be likely to compete at the state event on a day of the week that will attempt to minimize a conflict with another UIL activity.  The exact schedule will be determined and released prior to the registration deadline.
What does a Game Day contest format look like for spirit squads and cheerleading teams?
The "Game Day" competition format will be used to encourage participation, emphasizing the traditional role cheerleaders have on the sidelines and in the schools while supporting their school athletic teams. Tumbling skills and advanced stunts will not be heavily emphasized for scoring purposes, and it will focus on the unity of the teams’ overall performance to promote crowd-leading spirit.
Is it necessary for a district to secure a special choreographer to design routines for the school competition?
No. Local school district guidelines may specifically direct how spirit squad funds are to be used, and the UIL policy does not prohibit the use of outside coaching resources. However, the UIL Spirit State Championships were designed and developed in such a way so that all schools could participate successfully without additional expenses.
How will the competition divisions for each school be made?
The UIL Spirit State Championships will allow a school team of every size and skill level a positive experience and a chance to be recognized. The divisions will be congruent with the classifications utilized for UIL activities. Each school will be allowed to enter one (1) team in their designated conference 1A-6A (with split divisions in 5A and 6A) or the Coed division. A school may only compete in one (1) of the identified divisions.
Can the school team consist of varsity, junior varsity and freshman squads and be able to compete together?
The school will determine the selection of participants in grades 9-12 that are eligible to compete for the cheerleading team.  The school team should be participants that represent their school on the sidelines during the school year.  The designated participants of a school’s team members from a varsity squad or any sub-varsity squad would be a local district decision.
Are middle school or junior high teams allowed to compete in the pilot program?
No. The UIL pilot program language that was approved for Game Day competition did not offer a state championship for a middle school or junior high school team.