The American Association of Pediatrics wants cheerleading to be considered a sport.
The group says two-thirds of all serious injuries to high school girl athletes are from cheerleading. Denver pediatrician Dr. Steve Perry sees a lot of cheerleading injuries and agrees with the AAP.
“They’re more strains or sprains, a lot of time in their legs, but we’ve seen a lot of kids with concussions,” Perry said.
At High Country Cheer in Littleton, they make sure to take a lot of precautions.
“We have a high coach to athlete ratio,” said owner Krista Schley. “When they’re stunting we have a coach on each stunt to prevent them from falling when they’re learning. The athletes train really hard. What they’re doing is just as physical, it’s dangerous, and it takes a lot of concentration.”
The coaches are trained in CPR and concussion awareness, and the young athletes wear mouth guards for tricky stunts. Schley believes recognizing cheerleading as a sport will make it a lot safer.
“I think it’s athletic enough and dangerous enough that it shouldn’t just be a mom that’s coaching it, there should be some experienced coaches out there,” she said.
The association recommends all schools ensure cheerleaders have the same level of coaching and medical care as other sports. Right now only 29 state high school athletic associations recognize cheerleading as a sport.