Cheerleading May Be Riskier Than Thought

Part of the problem could also be the fact that regulations governing the activity and its requisite safety measures are a hodgepodge of guidelines that vary from place to place. Currently, cheerleading is regulated as a sport in some states, such as Arkansas and Georgia, while in other states like New York and California, it is classified as an athletic activity. Not all states require cheerleading injuries to be reported to a central database, further muddling its actual risks.

Mueller and Archie say that one of the best ways to correct this problem is for athletic organizations to begin regulating cheerleading as a sport, rather than simply an activity.

"Cheerleading is still not a sport in many schools and states, so these programs can do what they want without regulation from the athletic department," Mueller said.

Lord disagrees. He says he feels regulating cheerleading as a sport may have the unintended consequence of making the sport less safe, as it would limit the amount of organized off-season training that cheerleaders could use to practice.

"I don't think designation as a sport will have anything to do with safety," he said. "Safety is on the local level."

But Archie maintains that safety should be a top priority across all levels of the activity -- an activity, she says, both she and her daughter still love.

"It's a high to fly. It's an adrenaline rush," she said. "It's obvious why these girls would want to do it. But why can't we do it safer?"

"We don't want to stop cheerleading; we want to make it better and safer."

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