Friday, March 30, 2007

NYT on Cheerleading Injuries

As we've noted in the past, one argument we frequently hear for "counting" cheerleading as a sport is safety. Treating cheerleaders like athletes would give them access to athletic department resources for injury prevention, protection, and treatment, like trainers, physicians, and trained coaches. Additionally, if cheerleading was a sport, a conference or govering body could more effectively regulate dangerous activity.

In light of these arguments, I was interested in this recent article in the New York Times that describes cheerleading's high risk of injury. Cheerleading has a high injury rate per participate relative to other sports:
Of 104 catastrophic injuries sustained by female high school and college athletes from 1982 to 2005 — head and spinal trauma that occasionally led to death — more than half resulted from cheerleading, according to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research. All sports combined did not surpass cheerleading.
The article also provides statistics on the increase in cheerleading injuries over times, data that support a conclusion that cheerleading stunts are becoming increasingly more risky.

The article does not address whether bringing cheerleading programs under the aegis of athletic departments would make cheerleading safer. It does point out that some states have imposed safety regulations on cheerleading directly, though enforcement of such laws could be stronger.

That said, this article doesn't help settle whether cheerleading should be a sport. But you can't read the data and the stories of individual injuries and deaths and escape the conclusion that sport or not, cheerleading should be as safe as one.


Leif-Harald Nesheim said...

Nice job.

Cheerleader said...

Love this site. Great content!