Not so cheery news

This is why I never became a cheerleader. (It’s got nothing to do with the fact that I had more rolls than a bakery, and my idea of exercise was “stress management” in gym class, a.k.a. nap-time.) In a recent study, cheerleading was found to be the most dangerous sport for females. It caused more serious and deadly injuries than any other sport. Between 1982 and 2007, 103 female high school athletes died or were seriously injured, and 67% of them were cheerleaders. (Runner-up sports were gymnastics with 9 injuries and track with 7).

And while the number of cheerleading injuries fell slightly in the 07-08 school year, it still accounted for 65.2% of high school and 70.5% of college catastrophic injuries among all female sports.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the number of emergency room visits to treat cheerleading injuries rose from 4,954 in 1980 to 28,414 in 2004.

Despite these obscene numbers, cheerleading still isn’t considered a sport by many. For this reason, it's not subject to the same safety regulations as its sister sport gymnastics, such as mandated off-seasons, physicals and soft surfaces to minimize injuries. And training for coaches isn’t standardized, either.

"When people think about cheerleading, they think about the girls with the pompoms jumping up and down," said sports injury expert Frederick O. Mueller. "They don't think about someone being thrown 25 feet in the air and performing flips with twists and other risky stunts we see today."

What do you think? Should cheerleading be regulated? Should they wear unsightly helmets and pads? Or should fashion trump safety?

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“Not so cheery news”