I’ve written before about the dangers of cheerleading in high schools. It’s the leading cause of sports injuries to young girls. Now the Dallas Morning News has a new story about this. The article is lengthy and well-written. I recommend it to parents of high school kids. Here are excerpts:
Texas could be leading the country in catastrophic cheerleading accidents and nobody would know it.
Once known simply for shaking pom-poms and smiling beauties under Friday night lights, the extra-curricular activity has transformed into an athletic feat featuring supersonic tosses and complex flips. But unlike certified sports, state regulations have not kept up.
No monitoring system or organization totals injury reports, slaps fines on violators or tracks participation rates in most states, including Texas. Meanwhile, stunts have become more sophisticated and interest continues to peak.
“There is a zero system for holding anyone accountable,” said Kimberly Archie, the executive director of the California-based National Cheer Safety Foundation. “It’s a self-governed, $2 billion industry with no regulations for a child’s welfare. In football you can say X number of people died. Well, in cheerleading, it’s hard to find any numbers at all because nobody has to report anything.”
A recent study did attempt to chronicle the increase of major cheerleading accidents nationwide. The report, conducted by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research and based on emergency room cases, noted that the activity accounted for two-thirds of serious injuries among high school female athletes nationwide in the past 25 years.
Cheerleading is not considered a sport in Texas and therefore not overseen by the University Interscholastic League. Only a cluster of states actually recognize cheerleading as a sport, which continues year-round and includes a new breed of nonschool-related all-star gyms.