Group recommends sports designation for cheerleading

There was a significant amount of media coverage – with major television network news dedicating more than four and half minutes to the story – on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that cheerleading should be designated as a sport. As a former cheerleader (at LSU), I would certainly agree!

For its part, the AP reports that “in a new policy statement released in the journal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics says school sports associations should designate cheerleading as a sport, and make it subject to safety rules and better supervision.”

The article says that this “would include on-site athletic trainers, limits on practice time and better qualified coaches.” According to the article, the new policy says that “just like other athletes, cheerleaders should be required to do conditioning exercises and undergo physical exams before joining the squad.”

NBC Nightly News broadcast a report on the story. NBC’s Brian Williams reported: “although it has been the subject of a debate, technically cheerleading has not been considered a sport. A lot of people feel it ought to be, and now the nation’s leading group of pediatricians would like to change the designation in order to make it safer. More than three million American girls are involved in cheerleading. The American Academy of Pediatrics says about 26,000 are injured every year.”

ABC World News also reported on the story. ABC’s Cecilia Vega: “More than 37,000 cheerleaders went to the emergency room last year. That’s four times more than in 1980. The catastrophic injuries from all that tumbling and flipping rank second only to football. That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics is pushing to reduce the risk on these daredevil stunts.” ABC News also reports on the story on its “Medical Unit” blog.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics has made this recommendation so that that cheerleading is subject to the regulations and rules set by sports governing organizations such as the NCAA. The article notes that 29 states recognize high school cheering as a sport.

NPR reports in its “Shots” blog that “cheering accounts for two-thirds of catastrophic injuries among high school girl athletes, a number that hasn’t decreased despite repeated attempts to make the sport less dangerous.” The blog says that the AAP’s recommendation that cheerleading ought to be recognized as a sport has landed “the doctors in the thick of a fight over whether labeling cheerleading a sport would let high schools and colleges cut other girls’ sports, while using cheerleading to meet the requirement of the federal Title IX law.” It notes that “a Federal appeals court ruled that Quinnipiac College couldn’t count cheerleaders to justifying disbanding women’s volleyball,” and “the NCAA has yet to recognize cheering as either a sport or a so-called emerging sport.”

In its “Booster Shots” blog, the Los Angeles Times reports that the AAP’s “guidelines call for all states to recognize cheerleading as a sport; all participants to have preseason physical exams and access to qualified strength and conditioning coaches.”


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