FanDuel - WFBC

April 21, 2008

Cheerleader death renews calls for increased safety steps.: "Figures show 50 percent of injuries to young women in high school athletics are from cheerleading," [state Rep. Peter J. Koutoujian, chairman of the Public Health Oversight Committee] said. "These girls donít wear pads, and theyíre pushing the boundaries at every turn. While the boys' sports, contact sports, get all the attention, there's a great deal of injuries these young women endure."

posted by worldcup2002 to other at 05:50 PM - 30 comments

I'm dumbfounded. I've cringed from seeing video of a cheerleader getting her teeth knocked out during a routine. But this fatality has me wondering: Since when did a team support activity turn into a front-and-center competitive sport, especially one that results in severe injury and death? If you wanna go crazy like that, why not do gymnastics or join the circus? Maybe cheerleaders should just go back to, you know, leading cheers. I certainly see no shame (or death) in that.

posted by worldcup2002 at 05:51 PM on April 21

The most alarming thing to me is that no one seems to know if there was medical personnel on site during the competition or not. Maybe it isn't a contact sport, but common sense should tell us that a competition that involves throwing people 15 feet in the air and relying on a couple of dudes to catch them should warrant an EMT or two.

posted by captaincavegirl at 07:40 PM on April 21

Yes captaincave girl, good point. some people dont view cheerleading as an actual sport but these girls and guys are athletes therefore medical personnel should be accessible just like in any other sport.

posted by brandy at 07:55 PM on April 21

To be fair, a very large portion of those cheerleaders come from a gymnastics background. Competitive cheerleading is like an adrenaline step beyond. It's kind of interesting here in Minnesota where dance competition is pretty darn regulated. They're not allowed to do aerial flips and other stuff I'd normally associate with dance. Then, you have the cheerleaders who do insane stunts. Part of the problem is the coach requirements as far as medical training goes. Well, first off, I think it's a state high school league issue who makes the competition bylaws. Secondly, for competition cheerleading, require the coaches to have actual sports injury training or someone onsite who proper knowledge. For instance, in football, our coaches don't have "real" injury training, so there's a trained person at all practices and games in case of an injury. Sounds pretty applicable to some of the cheerleading practices out there. Lastly, sorry worldcup2002, but this isn't normal cheerleading anymore. While a good gymnastics background certainly helps, it's two different worlds. I really do think it's a sport, and as such, should be considered one, including my point about having properly trained medical staff there.

posted by jmd82 at 10:43 PM on April 21

The girl that died was on a college team, I know that the level of throwing, etc. increases dramatically as the girls move from high school to college. Back in my school days, it didn't seem like they did as much of this...maybe it's all the cheerleading competitions that have driven that. I'm all for medical personnel on site of any event that has a large number of people, regardless of the level of competition.

posted by dviking at 04:26 AM on April 22

The girl that died was on a college team... Actually, the article mentions that she was competing for a non-scholastic team in an event that was sponsored by a spirit organization. My reading of it indicates that the event had nothing to do with the NCAA, or any other college athletic body. High school spirit competions are governed by the National Federation of Interscholastic Athletic Organizations. There is a set of rules for the sport, although local (state) athletic organizations may have their own variations. I heard the story this morning on the news, and I was frankly shocked at the number of deaths that had occurred in the sport over the past several years (I can't remember the exact number, but it seemed high). I know that an EMT crew and ambulance is required to be at high school football games here in New Hampshire (and in Massachusetts as well), but I know that no such precaution is required in baseball. I don't know what is required in Spirit competitions. It appears that such precautions should be mandatory regardless of whether the event is intercollegiate, high school, or non-scholastic.

posted by Howard_T at 08:56 AM on April 22

Cheerleading isn't cheerleading anymore. It just a bunch of circus acts and in the circus you have a safety net. Time to get back to cheerleading or shit-can these stupid stunts. At our local high school, the cheerleaders didn't go to the state basketball finals, because they had their own cheerleading competition. How stupid is that?

posted by Shotput at 09:35 AM on April 22

At our local high school, the cheerleaders didn't go to the state basketball finals, because they had their own cheerleading competition. How stupid is that? I'm not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg...but here in Massachusetts, they don't even compete under the MIAA, the high school interscholastic sports regulatory body. it's something else, and I suspect the same is true in other states. I don't know what drove this, if they wanted to compete within the MIAA and were rebuffed or what, but I'm sure it's been informally competitive for a long time. Look around at a basketball game or a football game: it's not just about whether our team beats their team, but whether our cheerleaders beat their cheerleaders, our band beats their band, even whether our fans beat their fans, forgodsakes. All of these are auxiliaries to the supposed main event, but at present, it's only the fans who don't have formal competitions. Don't turn your head or you'll find that that's happened as well.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:42 AM on April 22

I have no idea what its like on the local level, but occasionally ESPN (the Ocho) shows major cheerleading competitions. I have noticed that they are always done on top of some kind of padded mat, and there are these big burly guys who essentially stand underneath the throwers to make sure nobody takes a nasty fall. Does this not happen in smaller competitions? If so, why not? Too expensive? As far as the cheerleading becoming a "circus act", I agree, their purpose is no longer to pep up the alumni, rather the competetive teams are a sort of team gymnastics competition. I don't think that there is anything wrong with that. Personally, I find cheerleaders at sports events that I actually attend to be annoying, a sort of side show, so it doesn't bother me that they sometimes have to go to their own competition instead of doing a number at the under 8:00 timeout of my basketball game.

posted by Chargdres at 10:03 AM on April 22

Good point lbb. Someone should start a fan competition and call it Fandemonium. Last fan standing wins.

posted by Shotput at 10:05 AM on April 22

hawkguy, shotput and llb have essentially captured where I'm coming from: "Cheerleading isn't cheerleading anymore. It just a bunch of circus acts" "it's not just about whether our team beats their team, but whether our cheerleaders beat their cheerleaders, our band beats their band, even whether our fans beat their fans, forgodsakes." "Personally, I find cheerleaders at sports events that I actually attend to be annoying, a sort of side show, so it doesn't bother me that they sometimes have to go to their own competition" It's bad enough when it's a sideshow but this competitive stuff is just ridiculous, especially with the combination of high-velocity stunts and amateur-level safety precautions.

posted by worldcup2002 at 10:21 AM on April 22

worldcup2002, these girls (and guys) are essentially doing gymnastics. Do you think that they should stop doing balance beam, vault, uneven bars, etc.? Some of the stunts they do on those look at least as dangerous as the cheerleading routines. Like me, you may find cheerleading to be obnoxious, but what they are doing requires an incredible amount of strength, balance, agility and teamwork, so as long as they are able to clean up their safety record, I see no reason why these competitions are "ridiculous".

posted by Chargdres at 11:41 AM on April 22

If this was on a co-ed team, why is SHE catching someone? Shouldn't the guys being doing that?

posted by dbt302 at 11:47 AM on April 22

Do you think that they should stop doing balance beam, vault, uneven bars, etc.? Some of the stunts they do on those look at least as dangerous as the cheerleading routines. Yeah, but when a gymnast does a flip and lands on a balance beam, the beam isn't at risk of getting its neck broken.

posted by goddam at 11:52 AM on April 22

When I see articles like this that speak to the dangers involved in youth sports/activities, it makes me wonder just what some of the other injury or fatalaties numbers are. How many young kids get hurt playing Pop Warner football or Little League? How about soccer? What are the medical safeguards in place? Are the parents or the athletes themselves made properly aware of the dangers involved in their said activity? It just seems that when one of these stories comes to our attention, we all start questioning why anyone would let their kids be involved in such a dangerous pastime. Is cheerleading any more dangerous than any of the other activities that kids do? It's easy to throw out phrases like "Figures indicate" and "Studies show" but what is the real, tangible proof that we are endangering our kids by letting them engage in sports? Maybe the world is a slightly, if not more so, dangerous place to live and conduct our lives. There are going to be accidents. A little perspective is in order. I mean, seriously, was the discussion heading to whether or not we should let cheer squads do what they want? Should we put more restrictions on the swim team? People could drown. Youth hockey? Are you kidding me? That ice is slick!

posted by THX-1138 at 01:11 PM on April 22

THX, there are quite a few restrictions in youth sports (mandatory protective equipment, etc.). I get the impression that they tend to come about after people learn the hard way about a vulnerability -- yes, kids do get killed sometimes doing these other activities. It could be that this is a "nanny society" thing, but that seems a bit simplistic to me. Specifically, it occurs to me that fifty years ago, participation in organized youth sports was nothing like what it is today. So, more involvement, more injuries, more changes in safety procedures.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 01:32 PM on April 22

On a somehwhat related topic, I read an article recently that claimed 22 children were killed last year across the U.S. when the soccer goal fell over onto their heads. This is the kind of goal that's on wheels to be rolled onto the field, not an in the ground type. It gives park districts the ability to use the soccer field for other activites by rolling the goals out of the way. The article claimed that soccer is the most dangerous sport for kids. Even in the ground goals are hazardous, because they don't move and their have been several concussions on these when kids run into them.

posted by Shotput at 02:15 PM on April 22

Look around at a basketball game or a football game: it's not just about whether our team beats their team, but whether our cheerleaders beat their cheerleaders, our band beats their band, even whether our fans beat their fans, forgodsakes.
It has ALWAYS been about our band beating their band. People do not join band to cheer the football team on. They join band to be in band. Playing at a football game is a chance to prepare for the state band competition. I mean, "go school!" and everything, but the band loves the football team as much as the football team loves the band.

posted by eckeric at 03:29 PM on April 22

I don't find competion cheerleading any more bizzare than driving cars around a big circle at high speeds

posted by shudacudawuda at 03:31 PM on April 22

Hard to gather any hard data on youth sports in the past compared to youth sports today, lbb. But I agree. It's hard to forsee all the accidents that could happen, obviously. But participation in life carries with it inherant risks. We'll never be able to make youth sports risk-free. And eckeric, I agree. I joined band to be a musician. I wasn't in it to be a professional half-time show marcher. Nor was it to fill in the gaps during time-outs at basketball games. Yet I did those things for those teams and competed in marching, jazz, and concert band competitions. Out of town coed band trips are quite a wonderful experience. Amazing what one can do on a school bus. As a matter of fact, there was this one time, at band camp......... But I digress.

posted by THX-1138 at 04:06 PM on April 22

Shotput -- I have seen reports on the soccer goalposts as well, but it was more like 22 killed in the last 15 years or 20 years or something like that. This article from 2007, for instance, claims that there have 31 reported deaths in the U.S. since 1997.

posted by holden at 04:52 PM on April 22

Those goals were banned completely down here about three years ago. The danger mainly comes from kids swinging on them when they are not anchored, i.e. stored at the side of the field, not from incidents during actual games.

posted by owlhouse at 05:24 PM on April 22

We should ban kids!

posted by worldcup2002 at 06:56 PM on April 22

We should ban kids! I personally know a lot more adults I'd like to ban. As the father of a daughter who is a competitive cheerleader, there is a risk to the activity just as there is a risk in high school football, hockey, etc. And like any other competition that utilizes judging to determine winners, the push is always on to make the routines more and more daring and incredible. My daughter was a "flyer" for a few years, meaning she was the girl who was literally thrown into high into the air, lifted up to the top of the formations, and, of course, reliant on other girls catching her on the way down. But the girls who do ultimately get injured most often are the ones who catch the flyer near the head area. I've seen the girl who catches the upper portion of the flyer get smashed in the face by the flyers head, resulting in concussions, broken noses, and more. My niece was injured in just such a way and began experiencing seizures afterwards. I can envision a time in the near future where some sort of safety measures or restrictions are implemented, although, like any activity, you will never totally eliminate injuries.

posted by dyams at 07:48 AM on April 23

We should ban kids! Didn't the Quakers try that?

posted by Folkways at 07:48 AM on April 23

That was the Shakers, aka the Society of Believers in Christís Second Appearing.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:53 AM on April 23

That was the Shakers, Lloyd Moseby wanted to ban kids?

posted by tommytrump at 09:28 AM on April 23

Maybe they should be wearing pads and helmets?

posted by Knuckles at 10:57 AM on April 23

Maybe they should be wearing pads and helmets? Who? The Shakers? That would make procreation more difficult, if they were so inclined.

posted by THX-1138 at 11:46 AM on April 23

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