Cheerleading is stupid. That’s not to say we don’t like cheerleaders - big fans of ‘em, obviously - but the idea that leading cheers for sports is somehow worthy of sporthood itself is patently ludicrous. Pro cheerleaders get it - they’re there to look purty and smile and show up to PR events. College cheerleaders get it less so, but most of the one’s we’ve known never took themselves too seriously.
(High school cheerleading should not end like this.)
Then there’s high school cheerleading, a wholly different category. Despite what its fans would have you believe, it is not a sport…and hell, it’s more ‘Melrose Place’ than extracurricular activity anyway, with all the sex, drugs, and violence. On top of that, a new report says that it is also an incredibly dangerous activity for girls, with a high risk for “catastrophic injury.”And yet, it’s more popular than ever. What gives?
Surely part of it can be blamed on the increased pressure for kids to compete and participate in more and more activities, but is that any excuse for these numbers, as reported by the LOS ANGELES TIMES?
Data from the Consumer Products Safety Commission show that the number of catastrophic injuries — those involving death or disability caused by head or spine trauma — have grown from fewer than 5,000 in 1980 to 26,000 to 28,000 per year in the last few years, according to Dr. Amy Miller Bohn, a family medicine specialist at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor. According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, cheerleading accidents account for 65% to 66% of all female catastrophic sports injuries in high school and college.
We bolded that last part for you, just to point out how pointless and ludicrous it is. The TIMES article cites the story of Laura Jackson, seen above, who alleges that despite the explosion of cheerleading-as-sport, featuring ever-riskier tosses and stunts, there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in oversight or safety regulations. High school teams are still throwing each other up in the air over a hard gym floor, for example.
Meanwhile, real sports are the subject of ever-more scrutiny. We’ll say it again - high school cheerleading is stupid - but if it’s here to stay, the least coaches can do is keep its participants safe.