New York high school and college cheerleaders are charged with generating excitement for school sports teams by keeping the fans engaged and letting the players know the audience is behind them. Gone are the days when the cheerleaders would simply stand on the sidelines leading chants. Today’s cheerleading squads do flips and flying stunts, tossing members up to 15 feet in the air. These stunts are extremely dangerous and are causing devastating injuries to more and more cheerleaders.
Today’s cheerleading squads often include “flyers” that perform flying acrobatics and gymnastic stunts after being tossed high into the air. The flyers are expected to be caught by their teammates that form a human safety net. Often their teammates are too young, too small, or lack sufficient training to safely prevent the person from falling to the ground.
Lack of Regulation
Most cheerleading coaches are not required to have any type of certification, yet the stunts that they request of their squads are demanding and dangerous. Only 12 states require school cheerleading coaches to be certified. With cheerleading tryouts being intensely competitive, once the team is selected the pressure to perform often results in the cheerleaders attempting stunts for which they are not physically ready.
As the acrobatics have become more sophisticated, cheerleading has evolved into an “extreme sport.” In fact, a Wisconsin court, ruling in a case where a cheerleader suffered a serious head injury, stated that cheerleading is a contact sport. The injuries that are suffered are typically serious and sometimes fatal, including:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Lung and heart trauma
- Fractures and dislocations
- Strains, sprains, and torn tendons
Cheerleader Safety Concerns
Cheerleading is not yet recognized as a sport, but the athleticism required to perform the stunts meets or exceeds the strength and skill needed in the other recognized sports. Even so, the sport is routinely categorized as an “activity,” and regulation has been slow to be embraced.
The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) is aware of the increase in injuries and is taking an active lead to improve the safety of cheerleaders. The AACCA College Safety Rules provide guidelines and suggestions for stunts and acrobatics. However, these are not mandatory.
According to the Catastrophic Sports Injury Research Report, “if these cheerleading activities are not taught by a competent coach and keep increasing in difficulty, catastrophic injuries will continue to be a part of cheerleading.”
Contact a Lawyer Today
Until mandatory safety measures are put in place, cheerleading squad members will continue to be hurt in preventable accidents. We believe schools and coaches should be held accountable when cheerleaders are injured in accidents that could have been prevented. If you or a family member has been seriously injured in a cheerleading accident, you need the New York lawyers of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. at your side. With more than 150 years of combined experience, our attorneys are well-prepared to handle all of your legal needs. Call us at 1-800-966-4999 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. We will fight for you!