As cheerleading has become an increasingly popular sport in school and in competitive leagues, the tumbling passes and stunts that team members perform have become more complex and dangerous.
As the difficulty increases so does the incidence of catastrophic injury and death, and yet so many people wonder, is cheerleading dangerous?
The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research released an annual report citing cheerleading as responsible for 65.1% of all catastrophic injuries among high school females. Although the traditional image most people have of cheerleading is that of a sideline sport, today’s cheerleaders are performing routines that might challenge the skills of an Olympic gymnast.
In the United States, football is the only sport that ranks higher than cheerleading as the cause of serious injury and death. Routines and acrobatic tricks that dazzle the audience can end up paralyzing or killing a cheerleader if the coach or other team members are behaving carelessly or negligently.
Cheerleading Safety Information
Part of the reason cheerleading injuries are on the rise relates to popularity, and an increased number of participants, by logic, will increase the amount of injuries. The other half of the equation, though, has to do with the fact that cheerleading is not recognized by the NCAA as a competitive sport. Without that official recognition there are no standards with which to govern the safety of practices, hire coaches, hold competitions, or to implement other measures that could help girls 6 through 22 stay safe in the sport.
Without recognition of cheerleading as a competitive sport, these dangerous practices are allowed to continue:
- There are no set requirements for cheerleading coaches, only recommended experience
- Stunts have no restrictions for height, number of persons involved, etc.
- Cheerleading gyms are not regulated for safety
- Medical personnel is not required to be on hand during practices
- Practices have no standard duration
- Practices have no regulated break/ refuel times
- …and many other dangerous behaviors.
If cheerleading became a sanctioned sport, the incidence of injuries would decrease with restrictions on activities like tossing and throwing, building human pyramids beyond a set height and no standard education and training requirements for coaches.
Injuries from Cheerleading Accidents
In most cases, injuries to cheerleaders occur when a girl is tossed into the air improperly, landing without teammates to catch her, or in a similar situation. In a basket toss, where one cheerleading is tossed up by three others, the cheerleader being tossed is known as the flyer, while the others on the ground are called bases.
If a single base is not in place when the flyer comes down, or if the flyer was thrown awkwardly, the flyer can incur severe bodily injury, head trauma, become paralyzed from the fall or even die.
- Broken back
- Broken neck
- Dental trauma
- Fractured bones
- Ligament tears
- Muscle strains
- Skull fractures
- Spinal trauma
- …and much more
Cheerleading is the absolute most dangerous girls’ sport for a large number of females. Data shows that this includes girls ages 6 through 22, which is a huge demographic at risk for life-altering injuries. Cheerleading coaches must also work harder to educate athletes on the risks of performing stunts and tumbling passes that may be too ambitious for their skill level, or those that could in any way be classified as risky.
Contacting a personal injury attorney with experience in cheerleading accident litigation can be the best recourse for the family of a cheerleader who has suffered serious injury, or in the event of wrongful death. A successful verdict or settlement can mean compensation that will assist the victim in many ways, as well as hold the negligent party accountable for their actions.