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Cheerleading Competitions; Keep Them Safe

Updated on May 16, 2015
brakel2 profile image

Helping others through her research and writing meets an important goal for Audrey. She has spent many hours on this goal in her career.

Cheer Can Be Dangerous

Update - The girl who fell, as discussed in beginning of article, has learned she has a displaced disc, probably from this incident. At some point, she will need surgery. Two years passed until it began to hurt. In the meantime, she sees a chiropractor who puts it back in place. She gave up cheer her senior year in high school when she was injured in a car wreck.

How fortunate for me that I could not see the stage that day, Oh, I could see it, but I was sitting so high in the arena that I could not discern one girl from another. All of a sudden, I heard a “boom,” and a hush came over the crowd. My husband told me he thought my best friend’s daughter fell. She was a flyer in a State Cheer Competition. A flyer is a person who is supported by others, usually four people. It spelled danger to me.

Cheerleading Coaches Should Be Certified

The rules for cheer state that all coaches should be certified, but it is not compulsory.
The rules for cheer state that all coaches should be certified, but it is not compulsory.

Accidents in Cheer Competitions

Mild Concussion

She was fortunate as she only suffered a mild concussion, and, through some miracle, she went back to school five days later.. She suffered headaches for some time and returned to cheer much too soon, in my opinion.In a quirk of fate that very week, our newspaper ran a story about cheer accidents, disturbing me even more..Cheerleading is more dangerous than football, according to the article, which made me delve a little deeper into the issue.


I learned that every cheerleader in these groups has a specific responsibility. A girl called a spotter is to protect the flyer from falling as the group counts to a beat to ensure a flawless performance. . In addition, I learned that every cheer coach should receive certification, according the cheer rules, but it is not a requirement. I hoped that the cheer coach was certified, but I already knew this girl had very little training to be a flyer.Training may be lacking in some of these cheer competitions, a factor which my cause more accidents... What happened to the idea that cheering is fun?

Cheerleader Silhouette

Cheer is a fun sport, sometimes dangerous. This girl is careful.
Cheer is a fun sport, sometimes dangerous. This girl is careful.

Drama and Danger Over Making Team

A mother in Texas hatched a plan to have a cheerleader’s mother killed, allegedly. That is not fun Something is very wrong when there are so many injuries or when girls become hysterical when they try out for the squad and miss the cut. When I was in school, the cheerleaders always seemed to have fun, and there were no competitions. How times have changed!

Rise in Injuries

In 1988, the Academy of Pediatrics issued a report on the rise in cheer accidents. Apparently, this began in the 1980’s when gymnastics alone began to lose its appeal and became combined with cheer. Competitions became popular, and each school tried to outdo the other with more difficult and more dangerous routines. In 2002, a girl in California became a quadriplegic following a cheer accident. Parents sign waivers agreeing not to hold the schools responsible for injuries. However, this case went to court and the girl won, based on the fact that the cheer instructor was only a dance instructor. She apparently made the girl do a basketball twist routine in spite of the girl’s objections. What a sad situation!

Another girl in Oklahoma was injured in an accident and remained on a stretcher with no attention until that competition ended. It appears that the competition must go on and does not stop for injuries as in football games.

Safe Cheerleading

Cheerleading can be fun if a;; the rules are followed.
Cheerleading can be fun if a;; the rules are followed.

Cheerleaders, Pom, and Band Bring Liveliness to Games

Looks like a fun time at the old ball game. Must be football!
Looks like a fun time at the old ball game. Must be football!

Young Cheerleader

Teach them to be safe at a young age.    Morguefile.oom
Teach them to be safe at a young age. Morguefile.oom

Guidelines from National Cheer Association.

So what is the answer? There are guidelines from the National Cheerleaders Association of America. One of the guidelines is to have each coach certified The following is a statement from the American Association of Cheer Coaches and Administrators. “How do we keep cheerleading safe? The answer is for activities and athletics associations, administrations, coaches, parents and athletes to recognize cheerleading for what it is - a very athletic activity that requires the proper environment and the supervision of a mature, qualified coach that only allows his or her team to perform skills they are qualified to attempt.”. They also suggest that a medic evaluate an injured girl for possible transport to the emergency room. It also appears that following a serious fall that the person is evaluated immediately.


I hope I will never see another cheerleader fall or witness any other accident. People must pray that the the number of injuries to athletes decrease and that the schools, coaches, and athletes adhere to the rules. Also, people must realize a person is not a failure for not making a team or a cheer squad. Society must rise above the feeling that being on a team and winning at all costs is the focus of life. Life is much more than that., Let us look around at the wonders that God has bestowed upon us and be grateful. Bum Phillips, a former coach once said “It is not all about winning. It is the fun of the game.”

Did you ever see or hear about an injured cheerleader?

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    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Thank you wrylilt for reading this hub and for the correction suggestions. I see you in the forum all the time and glad you took time to check me out. I look forward to reading your hubs.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i say if you fall and get hurt then you just do it was your fault in the first place joining a cheerleading team knowing you will get hurt that's like a football player telling someone that you can play the sport but you wont get hurt. dont blame the coaches most of them they work hard at wat they do. wasn't the coach that said yes i will go in this basket toss knowing i am not fulling trained its mainly the cheerleaders faults for so much injury because there the ones that make the decisions so hears an old sayin if you some said to jump of a brigde would you do it.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Thank you for reading my hub, emergency response. Safety is so important, as you mentioned in your comment. Let us hope for better days for cheer programs.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Yes, please keep these folks safe. No need to flip all over from high up and get hurt!

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 

      8 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      "Cheerleading can be fun if a;; the rules are followed." you may want to correct that caption then delete this. =)

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Thanks Stacie for reading my hub. Maybe someday things will be different when people wake up. I will look for your hubs.

    • Lamme profile image


      8 years ago

      This is so sad. I hope something can be done to make cheer safer, but it seems everyone just wants to push forward. It will take putting strict limits in place before people will ease up.

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 

      8 years ago

      most people don't think of cheerleading as a sport or take it seriously.

      these girls (and guys) have to be just as athletic and workout even more than the team they are cheering about.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Thanks for the info. I put a link to the MSNBC story on my hub. Good luck on your hub. Hope you enjoy your time on hubpages.

    • Lifeallstar1 profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi! Thank you for the kind words. I actually have been interviewing and trying to get the word out to help others. Msnbc just did one on cheer accidents in general with a video included of Laura who is such a sweetheart. Her story is unreal. Since I have had many concussions they did one of me on that topic. Not a video but an article that's linked to the cheer article and also an article about congress and youth sports hearing. My story is linked there too. The doctor in my article was incredible. People always think the media over does things but its actually the opposite. The reporter hopes to get the correct message out but then the editor tones it down usually for liability reasons but all 3 articles in their health section is worth reading if people get a chance. It was posted on msnbc's website yesterday and the crazy comments are worth reading as well. Some people can say the meanest things when an innocent girl like laura can't do anything for herself anymore but they say mean things and others don't since the question was if cheer should be regulated and people really got into it. I wonder if they realize that all other sports are so if they are saying no to cheer would they say no to all? Or do they just not get it. Hopefully now that's done I can get my hub out about how schools do not handle concussions in sports properly. Academically and psychologically. Hopefully ill have time tomorrow since I still have 0 hubs : )

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi James - Love your hubs. glad to see you on my hub and thanks for the nice comments. Everyone seems to agree on the dangerous aspect of cheerleading. I wish it could be different, but until the rules are more stringent, things may stay the same. Let us pray for change. Have a great day, and hopw things are working out for you.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      I think most fellas love to watch cheerleaders. But the gyrating most of them do now is vulgar. And yes, the competitions are dangerous, all trying to do something more daring than the other. I think they need to tone the whole thing down a bit. Thanks for an excellent article.

    • brakel2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Selig 

      8 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi- I am so sorry that you have had all these problems. I have long been concerned about cheer injuries, and that is why I wrote this article. May your depression lift and your quality of life improve. Maybe someday, there will be more caring people in the cheer industry as a whole. I do know some good coaches. Hopefully the NCFS will make a difference. Maybe you can write your story and help others. Good luck to you and your mom.

    • Lifeallstar1 profile image


      8 years ago

      I love the line, "It is not all about winning. It is the fun of the game." That was definitely an old quote. Times have changed and don't get me wrong, cheer is a big rush but the quote should be updated to, "It is ALL about winning. If you get hurt, or you are ill, suck it up, and remember to smile!" I have had so many coaches, some better than others. I have cheered since I was little. I have had a broken wrist, 4 concussions, maybe more, who knows but they would be smaller ones, I have had people kick me, throw me to the floor, I have broken my tailbone(that was not fun at all, took a long long time for that to heal) I have had tendonitis in both knees which still bother me when it rains and I had to go for physical therapy for months. I have probably had more but the final blow to my head stopped me from any contact sports for the rest of my life. I suffer from depression, now that's fun! RAH! I have short term memory loss and permanent damage to my brain. Lots of cool war stories and the funny thing is, ALL my coaches just cared about when I would be back, how I was letting down the team. I had to finally stop or my doctor said if I get hit again I could die and instead of the sympathetic response I assumed I would get, I was outed instead since in cheer you are only as good as your last competition. The last 3 years I did competitive cheer. They had no use for me anymore and cheer was my life and once I was hurt my mom found out that there are no enforced rules in cheer. My situation at the last competition was total neglect for the entire team due to certain circumstances that happened, but if that quote was actually used today, we would be much better off. Not AACCA or USASF or NFHS or NCCSSE (or whatever they are called) or NCAA and the big man VARSITY who is connected to them all in one way or another, would ever go by that quote. Fun doesn't pay the bills I guess, or should I say safety doesn't. That's why they never made rules that were enforced or fought to get it like that. It's not regulated or anything. Doesn't that seem odd that the main company which is a multi billion dollar industry never fought for us. Just like all the other sports have. For over 20+ years and over 20+ years they have spoken about how safe it is and how they are making it safer. GUESS WHAT GUYS, YOU LIED!! If you had enforced the quote, plus all the things that were told to my mom by you guys, these things would not have happened. So BEWARE since their courses are nothing but a piece of paper saying how great they are. My friend went to Varsity camp and they practice on grass when my 7 year old brothers playground at school is safer due to regulations, and my friend came back after they dropped her on the grass during her JV year at school, and she still doesn't remember it but the 3 or 4 days camp lasted a day for her. There are many stories like that. Schools should not send their cheerleader to Varsity camps, it's costly and they just want to sell their uniforms, and make you waste your money, it is not safe either. The courses as of yet, are not safe. If you ask any cheerleader if they have gotten hurt, they will say yes, you think it's part of the "sport" but guess what? It's NOT!! They are lying greedy people that didn't care that I was hurt (I'm now talking about the owners of these places that teach) and my mom was told they were not going to change anything when she wanted to join a committee that Varsity has for USASF (part of Varsity, just like most) that said they wanted to make cheer better, and she had suggestions but they told her that they only wanted suggestions of how to get the parents, coaches and USASF all in harmony and my mom said, how can you do that if you do not make changes to make it safer and they said we are not changing the way we do anything. I could write a book on them. My life has been ruined and what is a cheerleader supposed to do after college, do they go pro for $50-$100 bucks a game? It's a huge scam! It is supposed to build self-confidence, determination, dedication and team spirit. Which it did until you get hurt, they rip it away. It is supposed to be fun, which it is, BUT stay fun in a safe way. Some of the stunts we did the girls were scared, and we are who they practice on! That's 2 of my concussions right there. I'm not saying it's not fun but now knowing the truth is scares me so much and makes me so angry. There's no need for all of these crazy stunts which we get yelled at if we don't do it right, and it's tiring. There's no time limit on anything. If we get it once, then we move on to the next thing and once we do it all together people mess up since we are either tired by then or we didn't have a stunt down properly before that. It can be great and so much fun if it's enforced with time limit rules for one. Some stunts shouldn't even be done since they are crazy hard, and we were afraid we would lose our spot if we said we are uncomfortable(because it happens) so some of us did things because they didn't want to get kicked off the squad. That's what we are told. As you get older, or who knows, the younger ones might be going through it now, since that was years ago when I did youth, but if they are being pushed to do more at an earlier age, look out! Here comes more trouble. It should be fun like it was when I was younger. I had as much fun, if not more when I was younger doing easier stunts, although we practiced hard for it, we were learning but it does not compare to what is going on now, plus we did not compete. We did have a show for the other teams called an exhibition but no one won and no one lost. Varsity fights for this not to be a sport, and AACCA, and USASF because of liability sake and that is the truth. They have it set so WHEN you become so hurt and your parents finally realize and we finally realize what it is really about, you have to think that this was not supposed to be this way. My life and all the others (and I'm one of the lucky ones) that struggle everyday know that they do not care about us. They have fooled people long enough and it's time for everyone to open their eyes. It's time for the law to change. It's time for cheer to be a sport with rules and regulations that are enforced just like anything else because what cheerleaders do is dangerous when you do not have the proper rules, regulations, equipment and education in place. It's a disaster waiting to happen. I know it because it has happened to my friends and it has happened to me. How could someone like NFHS let this go on, but they use the same material to teach and love Varsity. I hope people listen to what I am saying and do not believe these lies from these people. Do something. Make your state go by the gymnastics way, they have all the equipment we should have, make them practice there. Not new techniques on us. How can a history teacher or anyone taking these classes teach what I was doing. I look back and it was a rush and fun, even though I kept getting hurt which can happen if things are not done properly in any sport but at least it's enforced and if something does happen that coach if it was do to neglect will have to take the consequences but your cheerleaders coaches have no consequences. Some don't even know how to call 911, no joke, look at the girl who died 2 months after my accident and no ambulance was there for her but Varsity rewarded the event planner instead of hiring them, they bought them out or merged with them." I love Cheer!" was on everything I owned and pictures all over my walls and now what?? Don't just think it is me, I just want to wake people up. Call an organization that has nothing to do with them and ask questions. First do a who's who because they have over 30 companies that they own so be careful because my mom found them lying to people online so she posted to the moms and there's probably more but the only one my mom got straight answers and help from that is real and not out to harm or for money is the NCSF which has a link on this story. That is why when I saw it I wanted to warn people and let them know where my mom went and she went to all, believe me but they are all


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