Now for something completely different. I don’t typically write about sports. To be redundant of prior explanation, as an atypical male, I have limited interest in them. I’ve always held that sports exist primarily to supply conversationally challenged males with something safe to discuss in public; an easy icebreaker upon which anything from a casual exchange to a relationship may spring. True fans can talk about sports at the exclusion of every other topic for indeterminable periods. Sports help men relate to one another…to bond, wager, compete, fight– most anything other than to discuss anything else.
Raising two boys whose friend’s dads (and even some moms) loved sports, I learned enough to fool them whe they were younger. Despite my disinterest, I encouraged theirs. Now grown, they know to much. They’re on to me. So I don’t try. And at times I must divorce myself from them because of my abject lack of knowledge and interest as they build weekends around televised sporting events.
That said, I do occasionally see sport stories I find interesting, like this one. If you had asked me what the most dangerous sport is, I probably would have guessed rugby or perhaps cliff diving. But it’s cheer leading–the only part of team sports I actually enjoy despite its difficulty for me to understand it conceptually. I mean, a bunch of usually attractive, young, enthusiastic females, often scantily clad, cavorting with great gusto and apparently loving it.
Turns out, cheerleading is an altar of sacrifice upon which primarily young women willingly compromise health, well-being and even life itself; all for the delight of shrieking spectators. While recent efforts to make it safer, cheerleading continues to top all sports (male and female) in related injuries, including those that result in death.
Researchers have long known how dangerous cheerleading is, but records were poorly kept until recently. The most recent research by the National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from the 2007-2008 academic year defines catastrophic injuries as any severe or fatal injury incurred during participation in the sport.
Its new numbers are for the 26-year period from the fall of 1982 through the spring of 2008:
- There were 1,116 direct catastrophic injuries in high school (905) and college sports (211).
- High school sports were associated with 152 fatalities, 379 non-fatal injuries and 374 serious injuries. College sports accounted for 22 fatalities, 63 non-fatal injuries and 126 serious injuries.
- Cheerleading accounted for 65.2 percent of high school and 70.5 percent of college catastrophic injuries among all female sports.
The number of cheerleading injuries fell slightly in the 2007-08 academic year.
Progress has been slow, but there has been an increased emphasis on cheerleading safety,” said the study’s author Frederick O. Mueller. “Continued data collection on all types of cheerleading injuries will hopefully show that these safety measures are working to reduce injuries.”