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Cheerleading, not a sport, but produces injuries
August 4th, 2010
09:39 AM ET

Cheerleading, not a sport, but produces injuries

No, cheerleading isn’t a sport, said a judge in a July ruling.

In a case involving Quinnipiac University, a federal judge ruled that cheerleading does not “qualify as a varsity sport for the purposes of Title IX and, therefore, its members may not be counted as athletic participants under the statute.”

But it doesn’t mean that cheerleading doesn’t produce serious injuries.

SI: Is cheerleading really a sport?

Cheerleading has acrobatic stunts from towering human pyramids to jumps and flips that could expose them to neurological injuries such as  concussions, closed-head injuries, fractured skulls and necks during cheer stunts, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research, based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that cheerleading accounted for 65.2 percent of high school and 70.5 percent of college catastrophic injuries among all female sports. UNC: Catastrophic sports injury report released

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons dispensed some tips on preventing injuries:

•Cheerleaders must have proper training with supervision during all stunts
•Cheerleaders should not attempt a stunt if they are tired, injured, or ill or outside during inclement weather
•Mats should be used during practice sessions and as much as possible during competitions
•After sustaining an injury, a healthcare professional must clear a cheerleader for return to activity
•Restrictions on stunts ranging from height restrictions in human pyramids, to the thrower-flyer ratio, to the number of spotters that must be present for each person lifted above shoulder level, must be enforced at all times


soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. eman

    If cheerleading is a sport, then marching band is a sport too.

    August 4, 2010 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Futbol Czarina

      How many marching bands run wind sprints, do pushups, and dynamic stretching before and after every workout? A strong cheer team will do that, and more, to prepare the body for the rigors of their workouts.

      August 5, 2010 at 10:15 | Report abuse |
  2. God

    Athletic competitions where the outcome is based off of a subjective scoring system are not sports. Sports utilize objective scoring systems!!!

    August 4, 2010 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Intresting

    there is a diffrence in someone being an athlete/ being athletic, and something being a sport, in which in my opinion its not a sport

    August 4, 2010 at 19:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. r

    It is not a sport. It is an outlet for athleticism. But those two are NOT the same thing!

    August 4, 2010 at 19:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. unknown

    who cares, didnt even finish reading the article and moved on.

    August 4, 2010 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. tom

    the title Cheerleading is the problem. All the stunts and other things cheerleaders do has nothing to invoke the crowd to root the team on. Also the term sport invokes competation and so sort of score keeping. None of that in cheerleading. Drop the idea and get back to reality .

    August 4, 2010 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. GB

    Is it a sport? My question is, what about golf, bowling, archery, curling, billiards, crew?

    August 4, 2010 at 20:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Matt

    Not a sport but they are fun to look at (the ones over 18)...haha

    August 4, 2010 at 21:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Matt

    The above comment from the male cheerleader is hilarious...a good way to get with athletic girls but not a sport. I had a male cheerleader friend in college and oh my god did we give him a hard time about it.

    August 4, 2010 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jeff

    We just discovered today that what the judge says goes. I agree it's athletic, with training, injuries, coordination, etc. But it is not a sport.

    August 4, 2010 at 21:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Truth

    Then how can they still call golf a sport?

    August 4, 2010 at 21:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Donald

    If athletic competition is only a sport when the outcome is based soley on objective scoring the that would rule out football(soccer) because i saw some pretty subjective calls that determined the outcome of games. Every sport has a subjective judge, some just have more control over the outcome then others.

    August 4, 2010 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Elsy

    Okay those of the responses I've read that state Cheerleading nor figure skating are not sports, you're obviously armchair "athletes". As a parent of a daughter who has participated in both over a 20 year span of time, I'm proud of what she's accomplished because of these so called "non-sports".

    I remember a time when someone told her hockey players were faster than figure skaters. That sounded like a challenge to her and so she proceeded to take on the member of the local Ontario Hockey league Jr A team. The task was a standard start and stop hockey drill from one end to the blue line, back to the end, to the centre line, back to the end, etc. till they skate from end to end.

    These young men were on average 6 ft tall and 190 lbs. My daughter is a compact 4 ft 11 inch 100 lbs of solid muscle. She beat all comers and went on to teach a few how to pick up their speed using, you guessed it, figure skating techniques.

    For all her training however, there is always a chance of injury.

    Because of skating, she now has 2 fused vertabrae and multiple sprains. With cheerleading, she competed in a major US competition with a torn hip flexor muscle. This kid has always been a tough competitor and because of her participation in these sports, she has lifelong friends all over the world, a work ethic second to none and the drive to succeed at anything she puts her mind to. Isn't that the essence of all "sport". To learn leadership, team work, and develop physical abilities?

    Obviously, the judge has never participated or he'd understand......

    August 4, 2010 at 22:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Taylor

    Cheerleading is def. a sport. Click the link to see a little of what cheerleading today is all about.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cn61EaOlLME&w=640&h=390]

    August 4, 2010 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Steve

    Just because something is strenuous doesn't make it a sport. I use a lot of energy doing my gardening too, but I don't claim to be an athlete. While we're at it, take GOLF off the list of sports, too.

    August 5, 2010 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. mmi16

    The ruling is about leagal semantics....nothing more and nothing less.

    It has no relation to the athletic prowess required.

    August 5, 2010 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Katie

    With using the same moronic opinions some of you above have used, Basket ball is not a sport. Really, how difficult is it for a 6 or 7 ft tall man to put a ball in a basket.. And, it appears from some of the stupid comments, that the only athletic activities that can be called sports must involve tackling somebody to the ground. I'm not a fan of cheer leading, I think it's pretty stupid but they are exerting energy, must be strong, athletic and have balance. They are more of an athlete than a golfer. Golf is not a sport.. But really, who really gives a hoot whether or not a physical activity is termed a sport or not. It doesn't change anything....

    August 5, 2010 at 06:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RML

    As others have said here – this is not a slam against cheerleaders. It's about using cheerleaders as "athletes" to skew school numbers. This is a legal maneuver – not even really a sport discussion. But as a former cheerleader – it was never supposed to BE a sport – it was supposed to be for fun, as are most school "athletics."

    August 5, 2010 at 06:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RckChlk

    Dr. Gupta (and anybody else who wishes to throw in their two cents),
    What representation was provided on behalf of the cheerleaders? Clearly it must have been sub-par at best. Were doctors not consulted about these statistics? As a former collegiate yell leader, I and all others in the sport at the collegiate level, are very aware (and have more than likely been apart of, or witness to, serious injuries involved) of the risks cheer leading brings. Those individuals that join a respective squad (college level), usually do so to stay in shape and to be apart of and support their college's athletic department.
    Through this comes all the risks with very little rewards. While the school actually makes money off these squads through school traditions, appearances, donations, etc., those athletes typically receive very little in exchange: inadequate practice facilities, lack of access to the athletic department's gym, little to no scholarships, LITTLE TO NO HEALTH COVERAGE, lack of access to tutors, and the list goes on.
    Any neurologist and orthopedic doctor can testify the need for cheerleaders to be included in Title IX (a 50/50 male/female squad doesn't really affect the school much in regards to Title IX). Were they not consulted?

    August 5, 2010 at 08:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RAH

    Let’s be serious. Cheerleading is not a sport. School sporting teams complete against one another on a scheduled regular basis, cheerleaders do not. This is what differentiates cheerleading from real sports. Many people have said that there is a lot of training going on daily to get cheerleaders in shape; however this is not a justification to call it a sport. Kids in a marching band have to go through basically the same training daily to build up there stamina to hold their instrument while marching yet we do not call marching band a sport. Cheerleading is nothing more that a collection of girls and sometimes boys who perform acrobatical stunts and cheers to get the crowd motivated at a football or basketball game. Now depending on the school the cheerleading squad may enter a cheerleading competition, however this is something that is not recognized by the public school systems nor funded. After reading most of these posting it seems that those who are in support of cheerleading as a sport are emotional women/mothers, and it’s ok to be emotional about something you support. But keep it in perspective and understand that there must be hard facts to support cheerleading as a sport.

    August 5, 2010 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Unsportsmanlike Conduct

    Cheerleading is not a sport, unless you count the heated competition of over-age beer-bellied redneck men gaucking at undeage scantilly clad women a sport.

    August 5, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JIm

      Unsportsmanlike Conduct, It is time for you to leave the trailer park, get a job, and leave the Ozarks.

      August 5, 2010 at 10:21 | Report abuse |
  22. Futbol Czarina

    I'm the parent of five children, four of whom do highly competitive sports which require international travel for their competitions. My "not a sport" cheerleader is a former gymnast who can outrun, do more pushups, more sit-ups, and win arm wrestling contests against football players three years older than her. Our gymnast daughter can do the same. We've pandered to football and baseball players for so many decades that any sport that doesn't require a locker room is deemed unworthy of Title IX. It's all about the funding, not about the nature of competition. Too much testosterone and not enough money equals cheerleading as a non-sport label.

    To the person who asked why anyone would choose cheer over dance or gymnastics, try 7 hours/day workouts at 10 years old (gymnastics) and see what a toll it takes on the body and the pocketbook. It's a heinously expensive sport. I never encouraged dance for my kids. That's as uninteresting, in my opinion, as baseball. If they expressed interest, they could've tried, but I would prefer not to spend my time watching those activities. A strong cheerleading program has strong tumbling and dance, and combines both in a true team fashion instead of competing against your own team.

    August 5, 2010 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Unsportsmanlike Conduct

    Girls join the cheerleading squad because:
    1. They aren't smart enough to join a real sport like fast pitch softball, track, or swimming
    2. They just want to score with a football player
    3. This is the only way that their parents will let them wear such a revealing outfit going out on a Friday night.
    4. They are into older men gauking at them and enjoy the cheap thrills.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZXVSRyRnKc&w=640&h=390]

    August 5, 2010 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JIm

      I am sorry that you never made the cheerleading team, but really, that trauma should have worn off by now and don't take it out on everyone else.

      BTW, it's spelled "GAWKing"; your otherwise BRILLIANT commentary is diminished by that.

      August 5, 2010 at 10:52 | Report abuse |
    • Futbol Czarina

      1. Cheerleaders are often former gymnasts who opted to not work out 7 hours/day (yes, per day). Instead, workout a mere 90 minutes daily. Don't confuse a bubble headed bleach blonde with a cheerleader. It's not the same, anymore than assuming you're uneducated due to your questionable spelling.

      2. Football players want the cheerleaders. Cheerleaders have higher aspirations.

      3. Hopefully you don't have a daughter if you believe that uniforms are the reason to cheer.

      4. Not worthy of comment.

      Competitive cheer is a highly athletic sport. Not amount of verbal degradation will change that fact.

      August 5, 2010 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Most cheerleaders play another sport. They CHOOSE to cheer because they like it. Why hate on them for their choice. Isn't that what the women's revolution was all about?

      August 5, 2010 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
  24. JIm

    CNN should be debating a more serious question: is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

    August 5, 2010 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. QuinnWatcher

    All one need do is look at Quinnipiacs history on Title IX rulings and one will realize why this is even news. This has become a personal crusade against one sport they want to get rid of as they fought and lost the first time. QU was outed for asking coaches to lie about roster numbers:

    http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-38149338_ITM

    Define cheerleading as a sport (despite no scoring, winning/losing during basketball, football, etc...) and they are able to axe a coach and a sport they have wanted to get rid of for years. Quinnipiac cares less about women's sports and more about saving face. Even if it means un-told dollars in litigation. Quinnipiac admin has become a disgrace in the NCAA. Why anyone would send a kid there is beyond me. I live just over 1,000 miles from there and still feel embarrassed for the students in that school.

    August 5, 2010 at 11:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 4

    Cheerleading is just physical enough to be argued as a sport but in reality is a way for girls to get made up and put on little skirts and jump around. Their is a barbie doll aspect of cheerleading that diminishes any argument that it is a sport. And for anyone who says golf is not a sport you try to hit a ball 450 yards into a hole slightly bigger than the ball in four swings. Yes it lacks the physicality of some sports but it is a game of finesse that no other sport can match. This makes up for it's lack of physicality. Try hitting a golf ball 250 yards straigh. Or making a 20 foot but on a slope. It's a menal game but people like easy games like ball in hoop, or catch ball. Games that take little or no mental strain. Also you walk probably around 7000 yards in 18 holes. (about 4 miles)

    August 5, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JIm

      No need to be so defensive about golf when this subject did not come up in the article. I suppose the Olympics should also drop ballroom dancing, figure skating, gymnastics, sailing, fencing, skiing, swimming, and equestrian events as well under the same criteria.

      August 5, 2010 at 13:35 | Report abuse |
  27. vvsk

    Whatever it is – I enjoy when girls are cheer-leading. Continue girls and Cheer us!!!

    August 5, 2010 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. 4

    I wasn't getting defensive about golf at all, just making a case for it. And how do any of those events (besides maybe figure skating) fit in the criteria I mentioned?

    August 5, 2010 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Leah (TXanimal)

    I wonder how many people who think cheerleading isn't a sport consider NASCAR, golf & bowling to be sports...

    August 6, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. PeaceLoveDove

    If curling is a sport, then cheer is most defiantly a sport. Its an insane amount of physical stress on the body.

    August 11, 2010 at 19:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. PG

    i love cheeleading....it should be a sport....i would like to see you throw a 130 or 180 pound person in the air and catch them....not to easy

    August 26, 2010 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • john

      acualy it is easy i did cheerleading for two years made it on the all american team two years in a row and throwing them up and catching them is not hard sorry to tell you that

      November 29, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse |
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    November 8, 2010 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
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