Nothing to Cheer About

Nothing to Cheer About

The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research reports that cheerleading accounted for 65.1 percent of all catastrophic sports injuries among high school girls and 66.7 percent of college women atheletes over the past 25 years. There were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes between 1982 and 2007, and 67 occurred during cheerleading. The next highest totals were from gymnastics (9) and track (7). Women college athletes experienced 39 catastrophic injuries during this period, 26 during cheerleading, with field hockey (3), lacrosse (2), and gymnastics (2) the next most dangerous.

Cheerleading is not an NCAA-recognized sport, but college cheerleaders participate in the Association’s insurance program, and 25 percent of its payments were made to injured cheerleaders in 2005. The report does not give the number of college cheerleaders, but estimates that 97,350 high school students participate in high school cheerleading each year, and 95,200 are female.

Frederick O. Mueller, professor of exercise and sports science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of the annual report, says catastrophic injuries to female athletes have increased:

A major factor in this increase has been the change in cheerleading activity, which now involves gymnastic-type stunt. If these cheerleading activities are not taught by a competent coach and keep increasing in difficulty, catastrophic injuries will continue to be a part of cheerleading.

The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research is working with the National Cheer Safety Foundation, an organization devoted to improving cheerleading safety.

 Hat tip: Inside Higher Ed

Image by Mike Licht. Rah! Rah! Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

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