Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Save the cheerleader

One of my friends has a daughter who competes in Extreme Cheer which I totally have to check out, especially after reading this in the paper this morning…

Cheerleading accounted for 65.1% of female high school athlete injuries and for 66.7% of female college athlete injuries.

Most of us over 40 (who will admit to being a cheerleader) are shocked by this. The craziest thing we ever did while cheering was stand on another girl’s shoulders and since most of us weren’t that tall, it wasn’t that bad if you fell. The only other risk of injury I recall is strained vocal cords after yelling “We’ve got spirit yes we do! We’ve got spirit how ‘bout you?!” for 2 ½ hours in cold October rain while your sucky football team slipped all over the field and dropped the ball 400 times.

Ah, good times.

Apparently the cheerleader movie Bring It On, which runs nearly continuously every weekend on ABC Family, is not total fiction. In the 1980’s a lot of schools dumped their gymnastics programs and the gymnasts drifted into cheerleading. Since then, the number of cheerleaders has risen only 18% but the number of cheerleading injuries has doubled.

This leads me to wonder …. just how good were these gymnasts anyway? And why are the cheerleaders putting up with this?

Say there’s a squad of 10 cheerleaders. Two former gymnasts show up, crying and moaning about how the school doesn’t support them and has taken away their balance beams and the cheerleaders – who are ALL ABOUT SUPPORT – take them in and next thing you know those darn gymnasts have those poor, unprepared girls flipping through the air, doing double-tuck handsprings, and greatly increasing their chance of injury.

If these cheerleaders don’t do something to stop this they are going to suffer the same fate that has befallen nearly every other sport and childhood activity … they will be forced to wear helmets.

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