On Oct. 22, 2012, more than 18 years after the MHSAA conducted its first Girls Competitive Cheer Tournament, the American Academy of Pediatrics proclaimed that cheerleading should be designated as a sport at the high school and college levels.
Of course, that’s been the case for some time in Michigan (see July 23, 2010 blog). Since planning began prior to the 1993-94 school year, the MHSAA has attempted to treat girls competitive cheer in all ways like every other MHSAA tournament sport.
The reason for the Academy’s statement is its concern for injuries. While cheerleading does not generate as high a rate of injuries as gymnastics, soccer and basketball, the rate of catastrophic injury is comparatively high.
Researchers note that the injury rate in competitive cheer actually has been declining over the past few years of the 28-year study (1982-83 to 2010-11); and they opine that the decline is related to the increased attention cheerleading has gained as its profile has been raised. The designation as a sport usually leads to improved facilities and equipment and better trained coaches. We agree.