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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Are cheer-stunt bans fair?

    PRO: Stunts too dangerous

    With the help of the National Administration of Cheer Coaches and Administrators, a Pacific 10 Conference committee recently placed drastic restrictions on cheerleading stunts nationwide to prevent injuries.

    The new ban prohibited stunts such as basket tosses, flips or twists during partner stunting, 2 1/2-person or greater pyramids and any tumbling that includes twisting.

    It’s about time.

    There will be no more substituting of personal safety for public entertainment.

    Just google “”cheerleader toss”” and watch the 28-second video of four male bases tossing a cheerleader up through a basketball hoop. She completes a backflip, and goes feet first through the net. It may look cool, but the flyer hits her head on the rim on the way through. Oops!

    And this is the least significant of the injuries.

    Last March, Kristi Yamaoka – a then-sophomore cheerleader from Southern Illinois – lost her balance atop a human pyramid and suffered a concussion, a spinal fracture and a bruised lung.

    Sure she’s got spirit, but now she’s got a bedpan to go with it.

    If this ban had not been put into effect, it would have only been a matter of time before death resulted from cheer stunts. It sounds dramatic, but these cheerleaders don’t wear pads or helmets, and so the chance of injury is much greater.

    Nowadays, you can’t spell cheer without using “”ER.””

    The number of emergency room visits from cheerleading injuries more than doubled from 1990 to 2002, according to a Journal of Pediatrics study released in January.

    Even after the ban, sporting events can be just as fun without the pep-squad circus acts. True, the job of a cheerleader is to pump up the crowd, and a risky twisty-flip way up in the air will certainly do that, but there are other ways.

    Use more signs and flags, come up with more cheers to get stuck in the head of the average spectator. Create humorous high fives, for crying out loud. There is always an alternative to keeping the crowd entertained.

    After all, we’re talking about cheerleading, not gymnastics.

    CON: Practice makes perfect

    In July, the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators implemented new rules for collegiate cheerleading squads, making its first priority the safety of the cheerleaders.

    These rules do nothing but undermine the efforts of the members of the squad. At Arizona, some cheerleaders were even threatening to quit the squad midseason due to the new bans.

    What many people often disregard is that cheerleading is a year-round commitment. That means practice every day, August through April (and sometimes longer).

    Specifically, Arizona cheerleaders practice every day of the week at times as early as 5:30 a.m.

    In my years as a cheerleader, I was fortunate enough to never have to see anyone get seriously hurt, and I attribute that to the work we put into our stunts in after-school practices.

    Then I met UA cheerleader Perry Stubbs.

    Stubbs endured a fractured eye socket in two places after getting kicked in the eye by his stunting partner, who over-rotated during a high-skilled basket toss.

    It was a stunt they did not usually go over in practice. His injury, though, was more of a fluke than an everyday incident.

    “”I’ve seen several people get hit in the head, but nothing compared to what I had,”” he said.

    Stubbs said that with practice, the team works to prevent injuries like his from happening.

    “”Any sport you play is dangerous,”” he said. “”The more you practice, the safer you get.””

    This theory was shared by my high school coaches, and I think any coach in any other sport would probably agree.

    Football players get hurt almost every week, yet if a cheerleader has a serious injury, it becomes national news. ABC News reported about Bethany Hancock, a high school senior from Columbus, Ohio, who tore ligaments in both of her knees after landing awkwardly onto a marble floor from a stunt she performed in a school hallway.

    The media tried to use this one incident as an example for all cheerleaders, which is unrealistic considering the situation.

    Whether you want to admit it or not, you were somewhat fascinated at the way a UA cheerleader flies through the air.

    Now, that right has been reneged by the AACCA, along with the work the squad members put into this season.

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