Why are we not requiring better standards to prevent injuries for cheerleaders? Cheerleading is a dangerous sport. However, the worst part about cheerleading is that is it not considered a sport in most states. This means that coaches are left to evaluate and administer first aid to their cheerleaders, without help from trained professionals. If cheerleading were any other school sport, not having a sports med trainer on hand to treat unexpected injury would be unacceptable! It is dangerous for the athletes to not get the attention they need when they are hurt. Although cheerleading has greatly evolved in the last couple of decades, coaches are left to their own devices to take care of their cheerleaders. And, because of this, it’s not required for coaches to have a background in sports medicine, but it sure wouldn’t hurt! Without someone knowing how to administer first aid, injuries at practice or competitions could be majorly detrimental to a cheer team.

We all know that football has been under scrutiny lately due to concerns of concussions, and how they affect the brain once they happen to an athlete. Cheerleading is the number two-rated sport for catastrophic injuries; football is ranked number one. Most of the injuries involved in cheerleading are concussions, among other head and neck injuries. Concussions are dangerous, and when a coach doesn’t have a sports med background or a parent on the team who does, a concussion can be fatal. So, should cheer coaches be required to have a background in sports medicine? Well, yes and no…

If you look at a football team, football teams have several different coaches for different things. They have a defensive coach, a head coach, an assistant coach, etc. Football teams tend to have a sports medicine doctor assigned to them by the school or association they play for, with an entire sports med department available to the team should they become injured. This kind of treatment and evaluation should also be offered to cheerleaders! A cheer coach does not necessarily have to be forced to get a degree in sports medicine in order to coach, but someone on the staff at the school or gym should. Most schools do not have their sports medicine department available to all sports team, however, and it makes it even harder for cheer teams to gain access to these facilities since cheerleading (in most cases) is not considered a sport. This may mean that the athletic director or sports medicine coordinator may not be available when your team has competitions or during practice.

Why is this acceptable? Should all coaches take it upon themselves to go out, and get a degree in sports medicine? No. However, teams should have someone present at the school or gym at all times who does. That being said, coaches
should have a basic understanding of first aid, as well as evaluating the signs of injury–especially concussions. Cheerleading should be classified as a sport so that safety regulations can finally be put into place. Maybe one day soon we will get to that point. In the meantime, these are questions that cheer parents should be asking when looking for a new all star gym or school cheer team. Who will be available if my cheerleader gets injured? What kinds of certifications or degrees do they have? These simple questions can keep your cheerleader safe.

Cheerleading is such a great sport for boys and girls. It is a rewarding experience to be a cheerleader: you learn how to be part of team, to be a leader, to be strong and competitive. Why are we letting injuries and inadequate safety standards put a dark mark on the sport? If the school or gym is not looking out for the safety of its cheerleaders, who is? Until cheerleading has safety standards firmly set, you, as a parent or cheerleader, need to ask questions before joining a team or gym. No one wants to end his or her cheer career early because of an injury that didn’t receive adequate attention!

Do you think cheer coaches should have a background in sports medicine? We want to know your opinion in the comments!