June 27, 2007
Cheerleading, once a rather tame activity composed mostly of pompoms and megaphones, has taken an about face in America over the last few decades.
Today, cheerleaders use gymnastic moves and athletic ability to flip, somersault and even catapult one another into the air, with stunts that can rival the excitement of any football or basketball game.
In fact, "[Cheerleading has] evolved from a school-spirit activity into an activity demanding high levels of gymnastics skill and athleticism," according to a study in the journal Pediatrics.
It has also become much more dangerous, with the increasingly complex moves putting cheerleaders at risk of potentially serious head, neck and other injuries.
Cheerleading Injuries Double Since 1990
The Pediatrics study found that cheerleading injuries have more than doubled from 1990 through 2002. Participation, however, grew only 18 percent during that period.
Over the 13-year study, 208,800 5- to 18-year-olds were treated at U.S. hospitals for cheerleading-related injuries. Almost 40 percent involved leg, ankle and foot injuries.
Researchers say the actual number of injuries is likely much greater, though, because the study only involved ER-treated injuries, not those treated at doctors' offices or by team trainers.
What Makes Cheerleading so Dangerous?
Although cheerleaders use a high level of athletic ability, cheerleading is still not considered a sport by the majority of schools.
Because of this, it is not subject to the same safety regulations as other sports, like football crazy game of poker lyrics oar. Meanwhile, cheerleading squads can exist without coaches or with coaches that have no safety certifications or training. Some schools also do not have the proper equipment or space for cheerleaders to practice safely.
Said Brenda Shields, the study's lead author and an injury researcher at Columbus Children's Research Institute in Ohio, "[Cheerleaders may] practice in hallways and practice on hard surfaces instead of mats. So when they fall off a pyramid or from in the air and they land on hard surfaces, the chances for injury are drastically increased."
Some Cheerleaders Get 'Grounded'
In response to safety concerns, some schools are choosing to prohibit stunts and keep cheerleaders safely on the ground.
The University of Nebraska has prohibited pyramids and other gymnastic stunts since 2002. The decision to keep cheerleaders "ground-bound" came after a cheerleader landed on her head while doing a double back flip at practice in 1996. She has only limited use of her arms and legs, and the school settled a related lawsuit for $2.1-million.
The move was controversial, as many cheerleaders seeking scholarships will avoid schools that don't allow stunts. Other called it a "sexist" move.
"Cheerleading is considered primarily a female activity," said T. Lynn Williamson, adviser to the University of Kentucky cheer team since 1977. "In our society, it's acceptable that every year a number of young men will die on a football field. But, my heavens, if a female breaks a fingernail, or her arm, well, then it must be time to ground them."
But the spokesperson for Nebraska, Barry Swanson, felt otherwise. "We didn't eliminate cheerleading or reduce the cheerleading budget in any way. All we eliminated was the danger ... In football you have helmets and pads," he said. "Cheerleaders do their stunts on hardwood floors or turf. We consider that risk without reason."
Other schools that have "grounded" cheerleading squads include San Jose State University, which did so in 2004 after an accident, and Duke University, which has forbidden stunts since the '80s.
How Does Cheerleading Stack Up?
Compared to other youth sports, cheerleading is still one of the safer options. In 2003, for instance, 100,000 female basketball players visited emergency rooms for related injuries, while only 25,000 cheerleaders did so, said Jim Lord, executive director of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors.
The seven most dangerous youth sports in America, based on percentage of injuries versus total participation, include not cheerleading but:
Nonetheless, the study researchers recommended several approaches to make cheerleading safer:
Coaches getting professional safety training
High schools and cheerleading associations adopting uniform safety procedures
Developing a national database for injuries
The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors also has a safety manual for cheerleaders and safety courses for coaches.
"It's not that the sport is dangerous, but it's people trying skills they shouldn't," said Lord.
"We are by no means minimizing the injuries; we are simply putting them into perspective. When compared to other sports, cheerleading is a low-risk activity," he maintained.
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June 26, 2007
The National Football League or the NFL is the biggest professional football league in the United States. The NFL has thirty-two teams that are based in a variety of cities across the country. Originally known as the American Professional Football Association when it was formed in 1920, the Association assumed the name �National Football League� in 1922.
At first, the most popular way people enjoyed their football was by watching their favorite college team play but the focus of the country changed in 1958. That NFL game went into overtime and captured a number of new fans who found that they enjoyed the professional football league just as much as if not more than their college football teams crazy game of poker lyrics oar. Due to the rising popularity of professional football, the NFL merged with the American Football League in the 1960�s to form what is now the National Football League.
Over the years, some friendly and some not-so-friendly rivalries have come about due to a number of circumstances. These rivalries can be categorized into three separate groups. The first is the �intradivisional�, which is a rivalry between teams in the same NFL division. The second is interdivisional, which is a rivalry between teams in the different divisions but in the same conference. The third is the �interconference�, which is a rivalry between teams in different conferences. Many times fans will hear sportscasters refer to team rivalries as �divisional rivals�, �division rival� or �conference rival� instead of including the appropriate prefix.
For example, in the AFC North, there is a rivalry between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns based on the when the team�s owner, Art Modell, moved the Cleveland Browns franchise to Baltimore. Fortunately for Cleveland Browns fans, the �Dawg Pound� and its colors remained in Cleveland. The Cleveland Browns were reactivated as a NFL team in 1999. The �Dawg Pound� fans waited for their revenge and got a taste in 2001 when the Browns won against the Ravens after only four games.
Another famous rivalry began in the AFC East when the Buffalo Bills owner, Ralph Wilson, wasn�t allowed to base an AFL team in Miami and went on to establish the Buffalo Bills as a charter member of the AFL. The Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins have maintained a rivalry based on this history since 1967. This particular rivalry has had a number of key moments that continued to fuel their contention over the years including playing against each other in the ultimate game of the football season- the Super Bowl.
About the Author: Larry Woods is a sports writer for http://www.pro-college-football-jerseys.com