After parents sounded off about their daughters not making the cut to an elite cheerleadering team, the New Jersey high school decided to abolish the tryout system in favor of more inclusivity.

What: The Hanover Park High School's top-tier cheerleading team, "Black Squad," was known as competitive and highly selective, according to CBS New York. The expectations were high, and the tryouts rigorous. Making the cut required discipline and training.

In May,​ the school board confirmed a plan to make the cheer team "more inclusive" by abolishing tiers altogether. Instead of merit, the teams will be divided by age groups (Black Squad would be grades 11-12).

"The emphasis of cheerleading within the [school district] shall be upon group involvement rather than featuring the performance of a single or select individual or individuals," the new policy determined.

The decision followed complaints raised by parents about the selection process. According to the school board's report, the coaches would sometimes have to lower the cutoff for Black Squad, in cases when not enough students made the cut.

The school's principal called the process "arbitrary" and "invalid." Consequently, the school board decided to abolish the cutoff.

Why: The tension between inclusivity and merit has been playing out in many areas of American life, but especially in education. In this case, the school determined that cheerleading is not a sport, in which achievement and excellent are encouraged, but rather a group activity, in which participation is the only important parameter.

More specifically, this story brings to focus the disproportional power that student comfort (and intervening parents) have in education today.


Many former cheerleaders lamented the decision.

“I was head cheerleader and my sister didn’t make it," Amy Rega, who graduated Hanover Park in 2003, told CBS New York. "My mom said, ‘You better get to work.'"

Others mocked the abdication of standards.

While some supported it.