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June 10, 2006

Fact for the Day: Cheerleader Injuries

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

An item in Prevention Magazine informs me that "over the past 10 years, the number of cheerleaders sent to the hospital with an injury has more than doubled." (The fact isn't online that I can tell, but here's Prevention's website.) That's an impressive increase. Still, given how virtuosic -- not to say insane -- the stunts are that cheerleading teams perform these days, I can't say that I'm entirely surprised.



UPDATE: Aha, here's an article citing the original research a little more directly: "In a study published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics, the authors conclude the number of emergency room visits for cheerleaders between the ages of 5 and 18 increased 110 percent from 1990 to 2002." According to the report, 16,000 cheerleaders are injured "seriously" every year. I notice that typing "cheerleading" and "stunt" into YouTube yields over 500 video hits.

posted by Michael at June 10, 2006


One of the many bitter reasons I quit teaching is exactly this: that kids are regularly destroyed by the demands of things like cheerleading stunts. The kids in the schools here were unsupervised while they tried 3 and 4 girl pyramids and somersaulting dives from the top. One finally ended up in the hospital with a concussion and broken leg, which put a bit of a damper on it. But even the parents urged their freshman girls to get out there and be daredevils. These are sober, responsible, white, squarehead, church-going farmers.

At the same time the football team was busy giving each other concussions and destroying knees and shoulders, as though this were a war justifying such lifelong expensive crippling. One of my former students told me that even now -- he's in his fifties -- he sometimes has half-hour blackouts and his personality is certainly changed. Closed-head injuries are closely linked to criminal and irresponsible behavior.

I'm not one who wants to wrap kids up in cotton wool, but to sponsor, urge and admire such damage is just nuts.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on June 10, 2006 12:54 PM

"In a study published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics, the authors conclude the number of emergency room visits for cheerleaders between the ages of 5 and 18 increased 110 percent from 1990 to 2002."

Ah, but by how much did the number of cheerleaders increase in that period?

Posted by: Peter on June 10, 2006 8:40 PM

The most disturbing thing about that insane throwing-the-cheedleader-through-the-basketball-hoop clip is afterwards: all the guys are slapping each other's back and congratulating each other, and pretty much ignoring the girl, who's the only one who took any actual risk...

Posted by: jimbo on June 11, 2006 8:09 AM

I'm convinced that the cheerleader-through-basketball-hoop video is faked in some way. Exactly how, I don't know, but there's got to be some trick.

Posted by: Peter on June 11, 2006 9:21 PM

Am I the only one who thinks he spotted the girl rubbing her head a bit as the guys were high-fiving each other? Did she knock her skull against the rim as she came through it?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on June 11, 2006 11:22 PM

After the cut, the other boy is holding her head so I would say that she either hit her head or, if it was faked as some claim, is pretending she did. I don't know - it could be real. It seems to me that divers and gymnasts have incredible control of their ability to control their falls.

I find the "girl tossing" aspect of it intriguing. I understand why the audience of a football game demographic likes to be "cheered" by 18 year-olds in short skirts. But now they're acrobats and contortionists. I think that's an interesting evolution.

Posted by: Alexis on June 13, 2006 2:36 PM

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