When you think of high risk, injury prone activities, basketball, football, ice hockey are usually what that come to mind. However, the risk for injuries, especially significant catastrophic injuries, are on the rise in cheerleading. Cheerleading accidents are claiming injuries and many lives of young, teenage girls. Emergency room visits increased 110 percent from 1990 to 2002, with nearly 27,000 cheerleaders going to the ER in 2007 alone, according to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance Survey. Additionally, the survey found that one in six cheerleading-related ER visits were for catastrophic head and/or neck injuries.
In a more recent 2012 study, conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, cheerleading accidents accounted for nearly 66 percent of all debilitating injuries in high school age female athletes. A relatively small groups, since cheerleaders makes up only 12 percent of high school female athletes across the nation. These injuries sometimes range minor injuries, like broken bones to more debilitating disabilities, like fractured skulls and broken backs. Where cheerleaders and their families are dealing their injuries for the rest of their lives. For example, living lives as quadriplegics, in a nursing home, or worse, death.
So how has cheerleading changed from the traditional cheerleading typically stereotyped on the sidelines of high school football games into a competitive, highly risky sport? Over the last two decades, cheerleading has changed from shouting chants and shaking pom poms on the sideline of a football game into a competitive tumbling sport. Where teenagers are being asked to throw one another up in the air as high as 20 to 30 feet above the ground trusting only their fellow teammates to catch them, no mats to catch their fall. A competitive sport with no governing structure, unmandated coaching, and no sport-wide safety regulations. Making Cheerleading the 17th most dangerous high school sport in a study done by the Center of Injury Research and Policy.
Lack of Governing Structure
A lack of governing structure has been cited as why the sport of cheerleading has become so dangerous. The Office of Civil Rights as well as other official organization, like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) have jurisdiction over recognizing what activities are considered sports. According to these organizations, Cheerleading is not recognized as an official sport.
Since Cheerleading is not recognized as an official sport, there is no official governing board that sets and monitors rules and regulations for the sport, leading to unregulated activities and disjointed ruling across the country. What one cheerleading club may deem unsafe, another may pursue.
Cheerleading also lacks safety regulations. Unlike gymnasts who perform complex routines and stunts with mats and trained coaches, cheerleaders are expected to perform without safety equipment. For example, completing routines on concrete or hard surfaces without mats, with untrained spotters, or relying their fellow teammates to catch them.
Lack of Training and Proper Coaching
In addition to not having an official governing body that creates and monitors rules and regulations for Cheerleading, there is also no official certification body that ensures proper training for Cheerleading coaches. While the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators currently provides a certification course for cheerleading coaches, the course is optional for coaches to take. Additionally, there are no rules or regulations in place for coaches to have previous training in tumbling or cheerleading to become a coach. Only 13 states require cheerleading coaches to be certified.
Cheerleading injuries can lead to you or your loved one being left with devastating injuries, if you are seeking representation for legal matters due to a cheerleading accident or injury, contact the attorneys at Zimmerman & Frachtman to review your claim. To learn more about your options in cheerleading accident cases, contact Zimmerman & Frachtman.
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