Football is known for its big hits. While the gladiatorial style of play has helped fuel football’s popularity, it has also been the cause of numerous head injuries resulting in permanent damage. Now, football programs from the high school level to the NFL are under pressure to reduce the number of concussions suffered by their players.
But football is not alone. As cheerleaders put on increasingly intricate performances requiring both individual athleticism and coordinated team effort, more and more cheerleaders are getting hurt. Likewise, cheerleading programs are now being pressed to change their rules to reduce injuries.
So who gets hurt more?
We set out to find the answer in data and making the comparison was not necessarily easy. Cheerleading squads are often organized as intramural sports rather than athletic programs sanctioned by a governing body, which means cheerleading data is often incomplete or relies on small samples. After digging around, however, we were able to find statistics for the 2011-2012 season with help from the National Federation of State High School Associations, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and National Children’s Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy.
Take a look for yourself: