|Huskers' Cheerleaders Held to the Ground|
In a decision that has rocked the Cheerleading community, the University of Nebraska recently announced that all future yell squad members would be keeping their feet on the ground starting with their 2002-2003 season. In other words, this means that they will be eliminating stunting from their cheer program.
The official University press release stated, "Cheerleading is responsible for 57 percent of the catastrophic injuries to female college and high school athletes. In light of this fact and for the safety of the participants, University of Nebraska yell squad members will not practice or perform stunts or tumbling exercises, beginning with the new school year in August, 2002. The restrictions mean that Nebraska yell squad members will return to more traditional cheer methods, and there will no longer be any performances that include stunting or tumbling exercises in which both feet and both hands leave the floor. Pyramids, basket tosses, handsprings and flips will no longer be allowed."
University of Nebraska Director of Athletics, Bill Byrne went on to say, "One person has already been seriously injured, and based on the information we have seen, these types of stunts just are not safe," and added, "For safety reasons, we are changing our cheer program parameters to eliminate what is commonly known as 'stunting,' beginning this fall."
The University of Nebraska's announcement sparked a number of inquiries from concerned coaches and administrators to the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors. And in turn, the AACCA released a response to the university's decision.
In the AACCA response Executive Director, Jim Lord defended the safety of Cheerleading and questioned the injury statistics the University used to base their decision on. He said, "It appears that the university has reacted to a single accident to an athlete that was not related to partner stunts or pyramids. It is our position that Cheerleading programs are a safe athletic activity when properly supervised and directed according to the AACCA Cheerleading Safety Guidelines," and "While we respect the right of the university to make decisions with regard to their programs, we feel it important to correct misleading information regarding Cheerleading injuries and misrepresentation of statistics that did not include any numbers for comparison or reference."
Mr. Lord also stated, "If the University followed the same criteria for student athlete injuries across the board, they would have eliminated football tackling before doing anything to Cheerleading. It is an unfortunate decision for the University of Nebraska, and even more unfortunate that they feel the need to get everyone else to go along with it."
While everyone is in agreement that any injury is one too many, do you think the University of Nebraska handled this situation in the best way possible? Sure, they'll probably avoid all Cheerleading injuries from stunting/tumbling, since they decided to avoid those activities. But what does that mean for the future of Cheerleading? Will other schools panic and follow suit? Hopefully they won't. Instead, let's hope they see this as an opportunity to educate their coaches/cheerleaders more on safety, enforce all safety guidelines, and ensure that Cheerleading continues to grow in a safe manner.
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More About the AACCA: The AACCA is a nonprofit educational association made up of over 50,000 Cheerleading coaches in the United States. Their main goals are the promotion of Cheerleading safety and the education of Cheerleading coaches through safety certification programs.