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Without ‘sport’ title, cheerleading lacks vital safety provisions

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that all schools consider cheerleading a “sport” to better protect the athletes participating in it. Currently, many schools leave that label off of cheerleading, which causes a safety dilemma.

Sports with the eponymous tag have a limit on how many practice hours the athletes can perform; they are subject to more oversight, such as conditioning exercises and physical examinations that ensure the athletes are in good shape; they have on-site safety officials and trainers; and they are more likely to attract better and more qualified coaches to ensure the athletes are performing the sport safely and appropriately.

In the absence of that, cheerleading has become a serious injury risk to teenagers. Cheerleading is no longer a quick wave of the pom-poms and riling the crowd up with a boisterous chant — there are very intricate, difficult and dangerous stunts that are performed every day by cheerleaders. Some moves require cheerleaders to be tossed 20 feet or more into the air, performing flips, spins and corkscrews the whole way. A fall after such a stunt can be devastating.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 37,000 cheerleading-related emergency rooms visits last year by girls aged 6 to 22. That rate is four times higher than in 1980, and without the “sport” tag, it will likely climb even higher.

School should be doing everything they can to protect their students; and for those who participate in athletics, they should be given all of the necessary safety resources to ensure they are alright while representing the school. Without these vital safety measures, some injuries can be life-threatening, or at the very least life-altering.

Source: New York Daily News, “Make cheerleading a sport: doctors,” Oct. 23, 2012

  • To learn more about serious injuries and what can be done in the wake of such an unfortunate reality, please visit our San Francisco personal injury page.
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