New York cheerleaders have created a petition to demand that this year’s New York State Cheerleading Championships is moved from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) after the university said that every athlete had to be vaccinated to compete.
Cheerleaders from Sachem North and Sachem East high schools on Long Island banded together with fellow cheerleaders across the state to demand the venue change.
One varsity cheerleader at Sachem East, Emma Silberman, said she was sad that she would never get to compete at state level if she couldn’t attend this year’s championships.
‘I have been cheering my whole life and have wished to compete at both nationals and states my whole life,’ she told Patch. ‘We got the news we were not allowed to attend states since we all must be vaccinated. I am a senior this year, meaning it is my last year. I’ve never competed at states and I really would love that experience.’
The petition already has nearly 16,000 signatures as of Monday night.
Change.org petition titled ‘Change the venue of the 2022 New York State Cheerleading Championships’
Sachem East Varsity Cheerleading team in photos from their Instagram page
Pictured: website for the Competitive Cheerleading Championships Presented by CheerSounds, March 5th, 2022 at the Rochester Institute of Technology
The cheerleaders complained that New York State did not have a vaccination requirement – and that the rule just came from host venue RIT.
They also said said that athletes in other sports, whose championships games were held elsewhere, were not being forced to get vaxxed.
‘Because all NYS male and female athletes must be treated equally, regardless of the sport in which they participate, New York State must change the venue where the 2022 New York State Cheerleading Championships is being held to ensure that no one is excluded,’ the petition reads.
‘It is simply not acceptable that in order to compete for a state championship, athletes in one sport are being held to a different standard than athletes in other sports.’
Madison Bulzoni, a junior at Sachem North, added that the vaccine policy has not been equally applied across different sports.
Pictured: Sachem East Varsity Cheerleading team, one of several teams who are advocating for a venue change for this year’s state competition due to RIT’s vaccine requirements
Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, where this year’s Competitive Cheerleading Championships are scheduled for March 5th, 2022
‘As a cheerleader, this was a very disappointing thing to hear and just overall very unfair to my team and every other team that wanted to have this amazing opportunity,’ Bulzoni said.
‘Cheerleading is the only sport that has not made a change of anything at all and the only sport requiring this mandate in order to compete. My team does not believe this is fair at all and something needs to change.’
Meanwhile, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association told a Buffalo-area news station that ‘it warned athletes, coaches, and families in September that there may be COVID protocols at venues for state championship events, and athletes would have to comply to participate.’
‘Our member schools were fully aware of how we were going to progress what we anticipated, and it’s coming true, a very challenging school year when it comes to hosting state championship events,’ said the NYSPHSAA executive director, Robert Zayas.
News of the petition comes just days after the US reached yet another grim milestone during the pandemic, reaching 900,000 Covid deaths last week.
It is the highest of any country in the world, and the 76.1 million recorded cases leads the world as well.
A majority of deaths are among unvaccinated people, and CDC data shows that someone who has not received the jab is 13 times more likely to die from COVID-19.
States like Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio with lower vaccination rates are among the leaders in COVID-19 mortality.
The U.S. has recorded 900,000 deaths since the COVID-19 pandemic began in spring on 2020. A large portion of those deaths occurred during a surge in late 2020 and early 2021