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Football vs. Cheerleading Injuries

The common perception of football is that it’s a game of hard hits, head injury and pain. Cheerleading, on the other hand, has always been more about spirit and smiles from the sidelines. The traditional views of each sport can be misleading, though, as cheerleading is becoming more competitive at the high school, college, and recreational levels. Serious injuries are happening in cheerleading accidents just as they always have in football, and this is prompting cheerleading programs at all levels to elevate safety precautions.

But which sport has more injuries? Do athletes in cheerleading get as seriously hurt as those in football? According to data from the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, Nationwide Children’s Hospital Center for Injury Research and Policy, the National Federation of State High School Associations, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 37% of all cheerleading accidents are concussions, compared to 17% of all football injuries. Logically, cheerleaders actually incur more head and facial injuries than football players do with 48% of all cheerleading accident injuries affecting those areas of the body. The heads and faces of football players sustain about 25.9% of total injuries.

The legs and feet are a common target for football injuries (40.9% of total injuries,) while cheerleaders will experience a similar injury only 26.1% of the time. The remainder of injury types is mostly comprised of strains and sprains or broken bones. Both sports see about a 22% incidence of broken bones but cheerleaders will statistically experience more strains and sprains than their on-field counterparts (34% and 29% respectively.) That said, in football 7% of injuries will require surgery while only 1% of cheerleading accident injuries will require the same.

From 1982 through 2009, there were two fatal injuries in cheerleading accidents; in football, 111 accidents ended in death.

If you break down the recovery time statistics these injuries can be examined even further:

  • 37% of the time, football players can return to the game in less than one week after an injury, though 57% of cheerleaders involved in accidents can return to practice in the same timeframe.
  • After a football injury, 19% of players will not return, 8% will return in three weeks or more, while 36% will require one to three weeks of recovery.
  • After a cheerleading injury, 16% will not return, 6% will return in three weeks or more, and 35% will require one to three weeks of recovery.
  • Total football injuries are estimated to be 202,384 out of almost 1.1 million players.
  • Total cheerleading injuries are estimated to be 22,652 out of almost 212,000 athletes.

What can we tell from this data? One sport may not be more dangerous than the other—in truth, they are both exceedingly risky activities. Head trauma can have severe, irreversible effects on young athletes. In recent years the NFL has seen a slew of tragedies follow players with multiple concussions, from suicide to extreme violence. Because of this the emphasis on player safety is receiving more attention than ever before. The best way to keep your football player or cheerleader safe is to monitor their activity, see a doctor immediately after any accident occurs and never play through an injury without proper medical attention. To learn more about your options after being injured in Connecticut, Call the Law Offices of Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers today at 1-203-397-1283for a free consultation. We work for you and always seek the compensation you deserve.


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