Often called “the most dangerous sport,” cheerleaders in Chicago’s public schools are at risk for suffering serious personal injuries. Cheerleading has become increasingly athletic over the past few decades, with cheerleaders being thrown into the air or placed on top of massive human pyramids. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that cheerleading should be reclassified as a sport and should have better safety rules and supervision.
The New York Daily News reports that 37,000 emergency room visits were linked to cheerleading-related injuries among girls 2 to 22 last year. This is a fourfold increase from 1980, when cheerleading was a low-intensity sport.
“Not everyone is fully aware of how cheerleading has evolved over the last couple of decades,” one Chicago doctor and sports medicine specialist said. “It used to be just standing on the sidelines and doing cheers and maybe a few jumps.”
There are an estimated 3 million cheerleaders across the country. Although the rate of personal injuries is lower for cheerleaders, they are more likely to suffer from catastrophic personal injuries like skull fractures and paralyzing spinal damage.
Some of the cheerleading safety recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics include limiting the height of human pyramids to two people and no tumbling or tossing on hard surfaces.
Source: The Associated Press, “Cheerleading should be designated as a sport to improve safety rules, doctors say,” Oct. 23, 2012