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posted: 10/26/2012 4:21 AM

Cheerleading has become risky sport

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Cheerleading has become risky sport

As a former midget-league, high school and college cheerleader, I agree wholeheartedly with the recent policy made by the American Academy of Pediatrics proclaiming cheerleading has become a physically risky activity.

With the growing popularity of cheering competitions since the mid '70s, fueled by movies such as "Bring It On" and its television spin offs, girls -- and guys -- have been passing into the realm of quasi-gymnastics. They need knowledgeable, experienced coaching and physical training equal to those of gymnastic teams.

For me, these changes impacted our university in 1978. It was not a big adjustment for me, as I had been a member of my high school gymnastic club. I knew how to approach those new, highly complicated "stunts." But others did not. Even so, being the smallest cheerleader, I was always at the pyramid's top.

I can admit I took some tumbles from my human perch and sprained both ankles over the years. Some were caught live on TV coverage. Ouch! All it takes is a momentary lapse of judgment to find yourself flat on the gym floor with a possible sprain, broken bone, concussion or spine injury.

I would surmise cheer squads do not have their own physical trainer on hand to deal with those mishaps. Nor do they wear protective helmets, pads or other safety prostheses. At times, a spotter might be used. That's it.

Cheers to the AAP to push this long overdue concern with the people who lead the cheerleaders.

Lisa Ann Wallace

Glen Ellyn

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