Now that it is Fall and we are focused on football and other Fall sports, you may be surprised to learn what the most dangerous sport is for girls and women. According to data gathered by the National Cheer Safety Foundation, a California-based not-for-profit body created to promote safety in cheerleading and collect data on injuries, cheerleading is number one! Next in line is gymnastics followed by track.
Cheerleading a sport? I know some of you are thinking, “Really” and you are right, sort of. Cheerleading is not recognized as a college sport by the NCAA. The reason, according to a 2010 court decision, is that cheerleading at the collegiate level is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be a varsity sport. However, many schools compete nationally and the gymnastic levels involved in stunting takes major skill and practice. The level of stunting and the difficulty of stunts continue to increase, making this “sport” a recipe for injury.
I was a college cheerleader, my daughter was a high school cheer leader who decided to try out for dance team in college instead of cheerleading. She made the dance team and frankly, I was glad for the change. I never wanted her to fly because those girls are dropped far too often for my comfort! Both of us based.
Between 1982-2007, there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes, 67% of them were in cheerleading. Research published in the journal of Pediatrics (2006), breaks down the less serious injuries this way:
Strains/sprains: 52.4 percent
Soft tissue injuries: 18.4 percent
Fractures/dislocations: 16.4 percent
Lacerations/avulsions: 3.8 percent
Concussions/closed head injuries: 3.5 percent
Other: 5.5 percent
Cheerleading is a dangerous sport or whatever you want to call it. We need competent coaches who know what they are doing and take every safety precaution.
So this Fall when you see the cheerleaders on the field, remember, it is not just the football team risking injury. The girls and women (and men) who cheer put in hours of practice times doing dangerous stunts and gymnastics. Today’s cheerleader is more than a pretty girl in a cute outfit. She’s a trained athlete who risks her health for the sake of sport.