Is cheerleading a sport? That’s a question that usually comes up in the context of “how manly do you think sports are,” which usually comes up in the context of “why yes, I would love a ninth beer, how did you know?” But today, it was a question with a considerable amount of money riding on the answer–and not just because some guys made a sizable wager after nine beers.
That’s because Brittany Noffke, a former student at Holmen High School in Wisconsin, got dropped on her head onto a tile floor in 2004, and has been trying to sue her teammate, the school district, and their insurer for damages. And yes, when you get dropped onto your own skull, there are damages. But the Wisconsin Supreme Court just declared her lawsuits void, and their reasoning is a little jarring:
The court ruled Tuesday the teammate can’t be sued because Wisconsin law prevents participants in contact sports, including cheerleading, from suing each other for unintentional injuries. That overturns a lower court’s decision.The court also upheld a decision that the district can’t be sued for the coach’s lack of supervision.
Wait wait wait. Cheerleading is a contact sport all of a sudden? Let’s momentarily set aside the argument about whether cheerleading (literally encouraging other people to cheer as they watch other sports) is a sport at all. A contact sport? Yes, technically, cheerleaders come into contact with each other, only inasmuch as it’s quite hard to hold someone up without touching them; that’s telekinesis, Kyle, and only Wonderboy can do that.
But we’re starting to wonder if mayyyybe this decision has less to do with cheerleading’s relative merits as a dangerous sport and more to do with setting a precedent of litigation every time something like this happens:
Right. The last thing we need is blooper reels entered into evidence in a personal injury case.
But now that cheerleading is legally a contact sport and head injuries aren’t covered, it’s probably only a matter of time before yet another great American institution is sullied by overprotection. Get ready for cheerleaders in helmets, folks. It’s probably like 2 years away, tops. Damn it.