Tuesday, January 14, 2020

"did you know there’s a cheerleading monopoly?"

Matt Stoller:

I looked, and sure enough, there is! And it’s owned by Bain Capital.

...

It’s an expensive sport, especially at the top, with top athletes spending $15,000 or more a year for competition uniforms, practice clothes, jackets, personalized bags, summer camps, tumbling classes, squad practices with professional cheerleading programs, and choreography fees. Families involved in cheerleading are above average in terms of affluence, and even non-top athletes spend between $2,500 to $10,000 a year.

And that’s where the monopoly comes in. The key player in the cheerleading world is Varsity Brands, which makes its money from cheerleading apparel, camps and competitions.

...

In 2016, competitors estimated that Varsity had 80% of the market for apparel, and 90% of the market for competitions.

...

This market power extends to media. Not only does Varsity own magazines, but on Netflix’s Cheer, cheerleaders complain that they can’t watch cheerleading on TV anymore, because Varsity streams its competitions over its for-pay app Varsity TV, moving ESPN out of the picture.

...

in at least one contest, cheerleaders got more points if they used more Varsity equipment as props.
(Cheer on Netflix is very good.)