Myth Busted: Cheerleading Isn’t Dangerous

by omni

Did you know that, in terms of concussions and head trauma, cheerleading is the second most dangerous sport after football? Or that cheerleading accounts for 65% of catastrophic injuries among high school female athletes? Considering that many school cheer teams don’t compete, that means cheer is dangerous from the sidelines as well. Take a look at a few different ways cheerleading can be dangerous, from collisions to falls. 1) Collisions. Cheerleaders aren’t just waving colorful pom poms. But even when they are, disaster can still strike. Take for example the Boise State incident that happened just last August. During a football game, a player attempted to catch a ball and ended up trampling a cheerleader on the sidelines. At a NFL game, a Miami Dolphins player accidentally ran into a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader on the sidelines. Since she was cheering facing the spectators, there was no way she could have seen the player coming (as you can see in the video below). 2) Miscommunication. Sometimes, a simple lack of communication can cause a big accident. During a 2007 Auburn High School football game, the football team ran through a banner held up by the cheer squad. What was the problem? Someone didn’t tell one of the cheerleaders (who was fixing a portion of the banner) the team was about to blast through the banner. As a result, the entire football team trampled over her. During a school performance, a Westfield High School flyer wasn’t caught by her teammates after being tossed in the air. Because of miscommunication, some of the cheerleaders thought the flier would do a back flip and land on the ground while the flyer thought she was supposed to do a basket toss. She landed hard on the cement several feet behind the bases and spotter. 3) Stunt Mishaps Even without collisions and miscommunication, there are always injuries due to dangerous stunts, no matter how experienced the cheerleader. This past November before a basketball game, an Orlando Magic cheerleader fell from the shoulders of another cheerleader and hit her head. She fractured three vertebrae and broke a rib. As a result of the accident, the of Florida banned their cheer team from any further tumbling and stunting (which of course upset a lot of cheerleaders). During a pregame practice, a St. Vincent High School cheerleader fell during a lift. She landed on top of the coach (who was attempting to catch her) and injured her neck. Concussions, significant head injuries, and even paralysis can occur when stunts go wrong. During tryouts one year, a then 14-year-old cheerleader named Laura Jackson attempted a back tuck but cracked her head on the floor when the flip was not a success. She is now paralyzed from the waist down. Unfortunately, these incidents aren’t as unusual as they should be. It isn’t just accidents or stunts that put cheerleaders in danger either; some of the most common injuries for cheerleaders include twists, fractures, and sprains which occur during tumbling. A slight error in a back handspring or front tuck can cause a painful injury. Flyers aren’t the only ones getting hurt either. Many bases and spotters suffer injuries during tosses and catches – from the more serious injuries like broken noses or bloody gashes from getting kicked or elbowed by the flyer, to less serious (but still painful!) incidences like getting fingernails ripped off or suffering from scratches. While appropriate equipment, proper practice wear and uniforms, and communication can prevent a lot of injuries, cheerleading is still dangerous and accidents still happen. Many cheerleaders, like other athletes, face a lot of pressure to return to the sidelines or mats, and end up re-injuring themselves because they didn’t take enough time off to heal from the original injury. Have you or a teammate suffered an injury from cheer? What safety measures does your squad take? Share your thoughts and leave us a comment below!

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