By Amy E. Feldman
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Boy, what an emotional high school football season this has been – feats of acrobatics, unbelievable grabs, and unfortunately, an increasing number of injuries and corresponding personal injury lawsuits – and that’s just on the sidelines. I’m talking about the cheerleaders!
Give me a C give me an H E-E-R. The name may have changed from cheerleading to “cheer team” but what hasn’t changed is that the activity so far has not been designated as a sport. Which presents both legal and other health-related issues for those who participate. Because, while there are laws that protect both high school and college athletes in terms of equality of funding and perhaps more importantly, mandatory physical examinations, limits on practice time, and training of the coaching staff, no such laws currently apply to cheer team members despite the fact that there were over 37,000 cheer-related emergency room visits last year alone.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has, as a result, lobbied to name cheer a sport. But until that happens, parents need to ask questions. If possible, go to practice and see how high the flyers are thrown and the number of pyramid levels. And ask about the cushioning of the floor on which the cheer squad performs because ultimately, it’s hard to be cheerful if your kid gets I-N-J-U-R-E-D.