At first glance, its easy to imagine that the injuries football players sustain would be more severe than those of cheerleaders, but this is not always the case. In truth, both sports are fast paced with the potential for serious accidents, though football injuries have gotten a good deal of negative press in the past few years. Numerous medical studies on head trauma coupled with several high-profile NFL suicides have recently highlighted the importance of increased safety measures in football; if cheerleading is examined with the same depth its obvious that the potential for injury is equally great.
Each sport poses unique dangers to participants: football players routinely collide head-on with each other while cheerleaders are tossed sometimes as high as 20 feet into the air during aerial routines. Oddly, most people would not answer, cheerleading as the sport they believe causes the most catastrophic injuries to college women, but according to a 2012 report by the American Academy of Pediatrics cheerleading injuries account for 65% of them.
One major problem with regulating cheerleading safety lies in the fact that the NCAA does not recognize it as a sport, but what does this mean for tumblers and stunters? It means there are no regulations governing safe conditions for practices, maximum heights on human pyramids, or certifications of coaches. It means that the wrist breaks, spinal trauma and brain injuries that athletes are experiencing in record numbers may continue until something changes.
Common football injuries include similar outcomes: concussions, bone breaks, overuse injuries and even heat exhaustion top the list. Repeated blows to the head and body mean sustaining an injury is less of an if and more of a when. In many cases, the sheer size of a player works against them when colliding with an athlete of a similar size. Though football injuries are no more severe or less severe than cheerleading injuries, they certainly have received more publicity.
In both sports, personal vigilance is important for injury prevention. Athletes should listen to their bodies and take breaks when necessary in training. Parents should be aware of the way practices are conducted and feel secure that their childs coach has the proper credentials for their position. Accidents are unavoidable in many situations, but reducing the number of senseless mishaps in practice can help bring the numbers down considerably. Any injury should be diagnosed and treated promptly to eliminate the possibility of worsening the athletes condition.
Both football and cheerleading are highly competitive sports with serious accident potential. Neither of these sports is inherently more dangerous than the other, but instead they pose similar risks to the young participants who love them so much.