There's been an ongoing debate regarding cheerleading and whether it is a true sport. Perhaps the title of sport isn't as important as recognizing the physical demands and talent that the activity takes in order to succeed. Most sport nuts who play football or hockey, for example, couldn't get through a cheerleading routine with the flips and tosses that are required.

Where cheerleading is most definitely comparable to other more standard sports is when it comes to physical danger. There is constant talk and concern over the risk of players sustaining brain injuries on the football field. And a recent report suggests that cheerleaders are also at significant risk of suffering from catastrophic injuries in their sport.

The Children's Hospital of Boston reports that cheerleading not only leads to brain injuries, but it is the most dangerous sport, leading to more catastrophic injuries per year than any other male or female sport. This likely comes as a surprise to the general public, being that this supposed fact is not covered in the news very often.

We hear of the lawsuits against the NFL by former players related to brain injuries. We hear all about how to protect our young athletes from the violence of hockey and football. But how often do we see stories about injured cheerleaders and how important it is to try to prevent injuries within that sport?

Researchers involved in the cheerleading study suspect that the sport is as dangerous as it is for a few reasons. While there is no tackling in cheerleading, there are tricks that involve the young women being thrown into the air. Cheerleading is often done on hardwood floors of gyms, making a potential stunt mistake a serious health threat. Also, cheerleaders do not wear helmets like athletes from other sports.

What does this point about cheerleading and safety mean? It means that further efforts need to go into trying to protect athletes from brain injuries. Just because someone doesn't play a so-called traditional sport like football or hockey, that doesn't mean that she or he doesn't need just as much protection as other athletes. Parents and coaches need to look out for signs of head injuries and take immediate action if they think that something is wrong.

Source: EmpowHer, "Cheerleading: The Most Dangerous Sport?" July 12, 2012