Cheerleading: A sport or not? - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Cheerleading: A sport or not?

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Here's something that will give cheerleaders a reason to cheer:  The nation's leading group of pediatricians says cheerleading should be considered a sport.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that cheerleading is more than yelling, jumping up and down all while showing spirit fingers.  The AAP says it has become a lot more physical and athletic.

The AAP says cheerleading should get the same kind of safety oversight that other sports get.  That would include on-site athletic trainers, limits on practice time and better qualified coaches.

Studies show that the number of cheerleaders injured each year has climbed dramatically in the last two decades.  Common stunts that pose risks include tossing and throwing cheerleaders in the air and creating human pyramids that reach 15 feet high or more.

A report in the journal "Pediatrics," shows concussions and other closed head injuries account for 4% to 6% of all cheerleading injuries.  Head and neck trauma make up approximately 15% of all cheerleading injuries seen in emergency rooms.

The AAP also recommends that cheerleaders should have physicals to make sure they are strong enough to participate, as well as be supervised by qualified coaches who have been trained in proper spotting for gymnastics and other stunts.

The AAP also believes cheerleaders should limit their stunts and avoid hard surfaces when performing.

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