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Cheerleading Is the Most Dangerous Sport for Female Athletes, According to Study

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  An Oakland Raiders cheerleader dances during a timeout against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 15, 2013 at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, California.  The Raiders won 19-9. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Mark PattersonFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 4, 2017

Forget the traditional sports: Cheerleading is the most dangerous sport for girls to get involved in, according to research published in the Journal of Paediatrics.

While some would question whether cheerleading is even a sport in the first place, it is treated that way in the U.S.. According to Eurosport, 29 states recognise it officially as a sport.

And there is a serious side to the news, with perception being crucial. The work spent on elaborate routines with flips and tricks can be significant, and yet the study suggests that the injuries, including concussions, picked up while trying to perfect them can go unrecognised and untreated.

From the New York Post:

The study of junior and senior high-school cheerleaders found that 37 percent had symptoms of a concussion but failed to report them.

The research, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, noted a sharp increase of hospital emergency visits by cheerleaders, from 4,954 in 1980 to 26,786 in 2007.

The study noted that cheerleading accounts for 66 percent of catastrophic sports injuries — the kind that shorten lives or result in permanent disability or long-term medical conditions — among girls.

Dr Cynthia LaBella, quoted in the Washington Post last week, said that the problem has arisen over a generation because, while cheerleading has developed significantly in recent times, the public perception of it has not.

"I don’t know that the general impression has evolved as fast as the sport has," she said. "It takes time for these things to register."

The International Federation of Cheerleading are hosting their seventh World Championships in Thailand later this year.

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