Give me an H! Give me an A! Give me a Z–I–N–G!

Give me an H! Give me an A! Give me a Z--I--N--G!

The human pyramid of championship cheerleading came crashing down at Towson University last week. The entire Towson Tiger Cheerleading Team, every single girl, was suspended for hazing. “Hazing in any form will not be tolerated at Towson University,” said university VP Deb Moriarty, and the school’s hazing policy is clear. The cheerleaders are also banned from performing or practicing their quasi-sport, but perhaps they will have a role in Towson’s Hazing Prevention Week, conveniently scheduled for September 23-27, 2013.

In April, the Towson Tigers squad won the All Girl Division 1 category of the National Cheerleaders Association‘s Collegiate Cheerleading Championship. While we don’t think there are any awards for hazing, this incident has gotten the team — and cheerleading — an awesome amount of national media attention (below). That won’t stop after this weekend; America wants the juicy details (Forced over-consumption of alcohol? Paddling?Humiliation? Nudity?).

But the real cheerleading scandal isn’t hazing, and it isn’t short skirts. It’s the fact that cheerleading is the most dangerous athletic activity for young women, causing disabilities and catastrophic injuries.

UPDATE:  University officials have reduced the cheerleading team’s punishment to  640 hours of community service. The team can practice but not participate in university or off-campus events or make appearances as a squad.


“Zero Tolerance: Towson University Suspends Cheerleading Team For Hazing,” Pat Warren,” CBS Local

“America’s top college cheerleading team banned from performing amid hazing scandal,” Carol Kuruvilla, New York Daily News

“Towson suspends cheer team amid hazing investigation,” AP via USA Today

“Towson Cheer Squad Suspended Over Hazing Allegations,” MIchael Howard, ABC News

“Towson University hazing: Entire cheerleading team suspended,” Christian Science Monitor

“Cheerleading Ranks First in Catastrophic Sport Injuries,” United States Sports Academy

“Cheerleading Injuries and Safety,” Frederick O. Mueller, Journal of Athletic Training

“Cheerleading Injuries: Epidemiology and Recommendations for Prevention,” Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, Pediatrics

“Hazing Acknowledgement Form,” Towson University

“Cheerleading not a sport, according to US judge,” Pat Eaton-Robb, AP via The Christian Science Monitor

“Cheerleaders, at Risk of Concussion, Hide Symptoms,” Hope Reeves, New York Times blog


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Image (“Cheerleader confidential”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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