A review of available data shows that not only are cheerleading injury rates much lower than have been reported in the media, catastrophic injuries are on a steep decline over the last 5 years.
Catastrophic Injuries Trending Downward
Chart 1: Cheerleading Catastrophic Injury Trends 2001-2011
Recent media reports incorrectly have claimed that cheerleading makes up the majority of sports injuries in high school and college sports. That claim is false and clearly refuted by simply looking at the publicly available data. It is clear that the sport with the highest number of catastrophic injuries by far is football. In fact, the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research 2011 reports shows that over the past ten years, there have been 358 direct catastrophic injuries for football and 62 for cheer. Football also has a far higher number of direct deaths, with 39 compared to 1 for cheer over this 10 year period (data is spread over two reports, here and here).
More importantly, cheerleading catastrophic injuries have been on a sharp decline since additional safety rules and safety training were put into place in 2005-2006. That year there were 12 high school and college catastrophic injuries. In each successive year, the number of catastrophic injuries has dropped, with only 1 reported catastrophic injury in 2010-2011 (See Chart 1).
Catastrophic claims with the NCAA have also dropped significantly. According to the Mutual of Omaha, “the Cheer Safety Initiative began in 2006 and since this time there has only been one injury for which benefits are payable under the NCAA Catastrophic policy and the injury is not truly catastrophic in nature.” Prior to this initiative, 25% of catastrophic claims at […]