Give me an "O!"
Give me a "U!"
Give me a "C!"
Give me an "H!"
What's that spell? Ouch, as in ouch, cheerleading hurts.
That's the sentiment sports medicine and athletic experts are offering throughout the country, on the heels of a report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that shows cheerleading has been the cause for approximately 66 percent of all catastrophic injuries among female high school athletes over the last 25 years.
"Catastrophic injuries" are described as head, skull and spine injuries causing paralysis, brain damage and even death. Last year, 30,000 cheerleaders went to the hospital for injuries—which was four times more than 30 years ago, ABC News reports. The injuries rival those sustained in football.
Within the last 25 years, the throws and tumbles in cheerleading have become more daring—and competitive. According to the AAP, the number of American cheerleaders ages 6 and older grew from 3 million in 1990 to 3.6 million in 2003.
The problem is that not all schools recognize cheerleading as an official “sport” and see it as more of a club, the AAP report states. If qualified as a "sport," cheerleading teams would require certain safety regulations, coach training and equipment. If cheerleading were treated like gymnastics, for example, qualified coaches, trainers and physicians would be required.
Until national standards are changed, the AAP suggests cheerleading groups require physicals and scale down their moves to reduce injuries—making pyramid stunts with only two athletes, for example.
America’s cheerleading government body, the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches, applaud many of the suggestions but have some concerns.
“They didn’t really approach us and ask how these recommendations would actually affect cheerleading,” Jim Lord told ABC.
So we ask you, Patch users, should schools regulate the sport of cheerleading? If so, how should they do it? Tell us in the comments below.