Whatever happened to just pom poms, a pretty face, and “go team?” These days to be a cheerleader you practically have to be an Olympic gymnast. What was once a school activity has transcended to a sport, and therein lies risk—concussion risk, and that’s something Texas officials are taking very seriously.
Following up the move “toward a 90-minutes-per-week limit on full-contact football practice…,” The University Interscholastic League “also voted to bring cheerleading in compliance with the section of the state education code pertaining to the prevention, treatment and oversight of concussions.”
As a result, “schools must now set up a cheerleading oversight team to ensure the activity follows school protocol for removing from practices or competitions participants believed to have suffered a concussion; and a protocol for their return to cheerleading after suffering a concussion.”
Requiring this compliance speaks to some alarming data. “According to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, from 1982 to 2011, cheerleading accounted for 64.8% of all direct catastrophic injuries to girl athletes at the high school level and 70.6% at the college level.”
These startling stats “have prompted a wave of cheerleading concussion litigation. According to the editor of Concussion Litigation Reporter, parents of injured cheerleaders are alleging that the high schools could have done more to prevent their child’s injuries because the activity is, for the most part, unregulated.”