Pediatricians recommend that cheerleading become a sport

A leading group of pediatricians has recommended that cheerleading become designated as a sport. Not because these eminent physicians have adopted jumping and pompom waving tendencies. They content that cheerleading has become so athletic and dangerous, it should be labeled a sport to improve safety measures.

The group adopted this position publicly in an October issue of Pediatrics, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They cite the dramatic increase of cheerleader injuries over the past two decades. Of particular concern, is the tossing and flipping of cheerleaders in the air, along with the gigantic human pyramids they make, some reaching higher than 15 feet.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that school sports associations classify cheerleading as a sport, making it subject to other sports’ safety regulations and increasing supervision. Such a designation would also mandate on-site athletic trainers, specified practice time limits and more qualified coaching.

The Academy also believes cheerleaders would then do standard conditioning exercises and need physical exams, just as other athletes do, before being permitted to become a team member. The evolution of cheerleading from leaping and shaking pompoms to a demanding athletic activity is causing severe sprains, broken limbs, neck injuries and numerous concussions.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that, in 2011, injured cheerleaders accounted for almost 37,000 emergency room visits. This data includes girls, age 6 through 22, covering most levels of cheerleading, from schools to private competition clubs.

Particularly troubling are concussions. Many of these injuries go undiagnosed by coaches and helpers. With no athletic trainers on site and/or uncertified or inexperienced coaches, there is often no one with medical knowledge at the injury scene.

Do you agree with pediatricians that making cheerleading an official sport will reduce the number of injuries and improve treatment and diagnosis? Have you seen cheerleading competitions, including the highly athletic maneuvers these young girls perform?

Source: New York Daily News, “Cheerleading should be designated as a sport to improve safety rules, doctors say,” The Associated Press, Oct. 23, 2012