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Cheerleading: The Most Dangerous Sport?

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Cheerleading is a high risk sport Mike Powell/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

I remember the excitement in my brother’s eyes when he led his high school football team to victory at the state championships his senior year. Four years of training had paid off.

The collarbone and foot he had fractured as a result of a game a year earlier were nothing but a faint memory as he raised the championship trophy high above his head.

Football is a rite of passage for the average American young man. Every year countless boys, as young as four or five, are enrolled in programs designed to turn them into professional football players.

Girls, on the other hand, face a sport that is just as dangerous as any male contact sport, but which is often overlooked.

According to the Children's Hospital Boston, cheerleading “leads the nation in catastrophic injuries among all sports, male or female, accounting for a staggering 65.1 percent of all catastrophic injuries among female athletes over the past 25 years.”

Catastrophic injuries are head or neck injuries that hinder the functioning of an individual significantly.

According to the article published by the hospital, the reason cheerleading is so dangerous is because of the stunts performed. While cheerleading is similar to gymnastics, the article points out a major difference.

“Gymnastics is done on padded surfaces, instead of the hardwood gym floors, school tracks or football fields where cheerleading is performed. Gymnastics floor routines are also individualistic. In cheerleading, teammates, usually males, help throw the performer high in the air, allowing them to do more flips and maneuvers. A minor miscue with the landing can lead to an extreme, catastrophic injury,” according to the article.

ABC News also published numerous articles about the dangers of this activity, which some states do not even consider a sport.

“There were 73 of these [catastrophic] injuries in cheerleading, including two deaths, between 1982 and 2008. In the same time period, there were only nine catastrophic injuries in gymnastics, four in basketball and two in soccer,” stated the article.

Another type of injury commonly found in those who play sports, is a concussion.

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EmpowHER Guest


September 4, 2013 - 12:13pm
EmpowHER Guest

I am a cheerleader and I know first hand that it is a dangerous sport. For all you noncheerleaders that don't know what its like you do not need to say anything about it not being a sport or dangerous. Last year we had a big stunt fall in front of close to my whole home town and one of the girls that got injuried just got realsed in June because she had brain damage. This accident happend in January. So tell me its not a sport or its not dangerous, because your wrong.

November 21, 2012 - 7:45am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.