March 30, 2007

“They ought to tell the girls that they are signing a death waiver.": New study shows cheerleading accounts for more catastrophic injuries than all other sports combined. And cheerleaders account for more insurance claims by NCAA member schools than all sports other than football.

posted by olelefthander to general at 05:37 PM - 9 comments

Somehow, that doesn't surprise me. When I went to UGA games basketball games, I recall at least two times where a cheerleader had to be carted off due to messing up a routine.The problem in cheerleading is that with the high-flying acrobatics, a screwup is extremely dangerous as highlighted by the gal in the article. To double the issues is getting injured isn't always your fault- a lot of times it is because of a bad throw or your catcher screwing up. I loved this quote from an elite squad girl: “The glitter, the makeup and the curls in our hair make cheerleading so deceiving,” Smith said. “We look like pretty little things. Well, most athletes throw balls around. We throw other cheerleaders around. What’s harder? What’s harder to catch?” These gals have some guts. I'd be scared shitless to do this stuff.

posted by jmd82 at 07:48 PM on March 30, 2007

I am glad that my wife and I are having a son so he can were pads instead of a mini-skirt when he plays sports. In all seriousness, they face the rigors of a lot of sports combined with a lot of the prom queen pressures that young ladies face everyday, a difficult combination.

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 06:10 AM on March 31, 2007

My 10 year old is starting stunting classes next month, and both of my daughters have been involved in cheer for the last 5 years. Good article ole. This really opens my eyes, but you can't stop them anymore than you could if it were a boy playing football. You just hope for the best.

posted by kcfan4life at 08:47 AM on March 31, 2007

Stunning and horrifying. These young women have some serious guts and ability, no question. This stuff fascinates me, since it's so alien to my experience. Both my wife and I both grew up in areas (she in Seattle, I in New England) where girls with athletic ability, and aspirations for "popularity" were encouraged to play team sports (gymnastics, swimming, lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, etc.), and cheerleading was mostly the domain of the delicate and less able. Fascinating stuff, good post!

posted by psmealey at 09:24 AM on March 31, 2007

Good stuff, definitely something to think about. One never does think of cheerleading as dangerous. I think some of there comments about injuries are overstated (the one specifically about a lot of injuries are not treated major hopsitals but at clinics could be echoed about so many things in life), but the danger is unavoidable.

posted by Bonkers at 05:13 PM on March 31, 2007

That's what I found so fascinating, that these are girls who until a few years ago would have been in gymnastics. But when schools ditched the gymnastics teams as budget cuts, they came out for cheerleading instead. Kc, I think the message of the story is not so much not to let your daughters participate, but to be vigilant that their coaches are adequately trained and aren't taking foolish risks. Just like you wouldn't want your kid's baseball coach having them throw curveballs at 11.

posted by olelefthander at 05:14 PM on March 31, 2007

As sports go, cheerleading is an odd duck. Before it was a sport, it was pretty much the way she describes pro cheerleaders today. No big tricks, mostly dancing, yelling, and mild tumbling. When it started to become competitive, everyone started to push the envelope. No surprize there, but the fact that pads and helmets don't exactly fit into the mix means you have to expect trouble. There are a few safety devices they can use in practice, but that's about it. Add to that the fact that they're in danger during practice and competition like most athletes, but also in that gray area of traditional cheerleading. They're often doing these stunts under conditions that range from tracks like hardened sandpaper to wet grass and mud on football fields to polished hardwood basketball floors. Full time gymnasts have it hard, but at least they never fly that high and the success of any of their maneuvers is solely dependent on their actions. On top of that, on any events involving dangerous moves, gymnasts get a heck of a lot of padding on the floor. Competitve cheerleaders deserve a lot of respect. Most know how dangerous it is and do it anyway. Hopefully, someone smarter than I can come up with the workable safety ideas.

posted by ctal1999 at 01:55 PM on April 01, 2007

It's obvious that cheerleading needs some kind of overseeing organization. It's simply too dangerous to be so wide open. It's a shame what happened to the girl in the video. That said, the girl said she didn't want to fly, then said she was on her way to quit, then didn't want to do the routine, yet did it anyway (when she was going to quit). The mother says she was worried the entire time. I wonder what their attitudes would have been if the article had been written before the accident. I don't think the answer is going back to the type of cheerleading the nba has, which she seems to be drawn to now. They're not seen so much as athletes as they are dancers. That's not going to work for the cheerleader wishing to be competitive.

posted by justgary at 08:36 PM on April 01, 2007

Justgary, what about the NFL Cheerleader Playoffs? (laughing)

posted by olelefthander at 02:14 PM on April 08, 2007

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