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CheerMAD in the News
Cheerleading’s Olympic Dreams
By Daniel Libit
SEPTEMBER 16, 2021
On July 20, Jeff Webb appeared in the warm glow of network morning television, to bask in what he described as an achievement 15 years in the making: gaining official Olympic recognition for cheerleading.
“It’s been quite a journey,” Webb told Good Morning America, following the news that the International Olympic Committee had voted to fully recognize the International Cheer Union, for which he serves as president.
Webb, meanwhile, has also thrust himself into the political arena, on the theory that his business background can serve as a parable for reinvigorating America’s middle class. But Webb’s cheerleading critics instead see his corporate story as a tale of opportunism, exploitation and intimidation.
“I think the environment he created is evil,” said Lisa Welsh, a former journalist who runs the popular cheerleading parents forum, CheerMAD.
“When you think of the money grab, and the pedophilia and the manipulation and bullying that goes on in these children’s lives, the environment is evil—and he created it.”
Given their perceptions of Varsity, some critics have already deemed Webb a ridiculous antitrust advocate. But Webb flatly denies that Varsity is or ever was a monopoly, maintaining that multitudes of businesses have either competed with or usurped Varsity Brands in various cheerleading niches.
Moreover, he says the public’s interest is far better served by federal regulators taking on the giant corporations in sectors, such as communications or health care, that are core to human well-being. “Cheerleading would not qualify in that criteria,” Webb said.
CheerMAD’s Welsh takes umbrage at this explanation, noting that Webb’s wealth is a result of so many hundreds of thousands of Americans spending money as if cheerleading is essential.
“It is these kids’ lives and, by that token, it is their families’ lives,” said Welsh.
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