In addition to ensuring that all kids succeed academically, No Child Left Behind aims to make schools safer. But when crafting this part of the law, the feds overlooked a major hazard: cheerleading. According to the Columbus Research Institute, cheerleading participation between 1990 and 2002 increased by a mere 18 percent. The number of cheerleading injuries over that same period, however, more than doubled. Senior cheerleader Allysa Voborny thinks the statistics illustrate a definite problem. Comparing cheerleading to karate, Voborny said, "It's much more dangerous up in the air; you can fall to the ground." Quite true. Why, then, are sports such as karate, kendo, and skeet shooting-terra firma activities, all-usually judged too dangerous for schools, while cheerleading squads are allowed to toss their members willy-nilly into the air with the full complicity of teachers and administrators? "We need to have accountability," said Rhonda Blanford-Green, an assistant commissioner with the Colorado High School Activities Association, "not only for our cheerleaders that perform, but for our coaches." One suggestion: classify cheerleading accidents under NCLB's "persistently dangerous" schools provision. With standards and sunshine, cheerleading may finally be able to clean up its act and shed its rough, daredevil image once and for all.
"The rising risk of cheerleading," by Heather Simonsen, Salt Lake Tribune, February 8, 2006
"Forget the pom poms," by Connie Steiert, Vail Daily, January 31, 2006 (free registration required)