Cheerleading isn't just jumping and waving pompoms - it has become as athletic and potentially as dangerous as a sport. In my opinion, it should be designated one to improve safety. The nation's leading group of pediatricians agrees.
The number of cheerleaders injured each year has climbed dramatically in the last two decades. Common stunts that pose risks include tossing and flipping cheerleaders in the air, and creating human pyramids that reach 15 feet high or more.
In a new policy statement released online Monday in the Journal of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics says school sports associations should designate cheerleading as a sport, and make it subject to safety rules and better supervision, which would include on-site athletic trainers, limits on practice time and better qualified coaches, the academy says. Just like other athletes, cheerleaders should be required to do conditioning exercises and undergo physical exams before joining the squad.
"Not everyone is fully aware of how cheerleading has evolved over the last couple of decades. It used to be just standing on the sidelines and doing cheers and maybe a few jumps," said Dr. Cynthia LaBella, a sports medicine specialist at Chicago's Lurie Children's Hospital and an author of the new policy. Cheerleading often results in injuries that include severe sprains, broken arms and legs, neck injuries and concussions.
Last year, there were almost 37,000 emergency room visits for cheerleading injuries among girls aged 6 to 22, according to data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That's more than four times higher than in 1980, when cheerleading was tamer.
While there are still traditional cheerleading squads that support schools' athletic teams, some schools and private clubs have separate cheerleading teams that compete against other teams. Lisa Kluchorosky, a sports medicine specialist who works with the academy and the National Athletic Trainers Association, said the new policy will help erase misconceptions that cheerleading is not very athletic. "The statistics are compelling and you can't turn your head from that," she said.
THE EXPERTS ARE RIGHT. As a personal injury lawyer in phoenix, there are countless examples of how injuries in sports are growing. One being Cheerleading.
Cheerleading has become a very demanding, physical and demanding "sport". Even as young girls, cheerleaders are trained to do more and more jumps, flips, throws and stunts. The injuries are increasing, and with such, the safety rules need to be better. There need to be national standards. At present, there really are none. Coaches need to be educated and trained to adhere to the standards. The health of these young girls is far too important.
In addition, coaches who fail to adhere to the standards need to held liable. It will not stop accidents, but it likely will cut down on them substantially. It will teach the girls, and provide them a fairer chance to avoid being injured.
What do you think?