'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
CHEERLEADING IS DANGEROUS – ESPECIALLY FOR ITS CRITICS
There’s no doubt I will receive a lot of hate mail because of what I’m about to say. But I have to say it: I think cheerleading should be banned.
There, it’s out in the open. Now I need to get an unlisted phone number, bolt the doors, and be on the lookout for deranged Texas mothers who will hire hit men to rub me out. (You didn’t hear about that one? Back in the 1990s a woman in Texas hired a hit man to kill her daughter’s rival for a spot on the cheerleading team. Nice, huh? She probably didn’t win the PTA’s Mother-of-the-Year award.)
I don’t think cheerleading should be banned simply because it drives people to commit murder. Heck, in our day and age, there’s a lot of things that drive people to commit murder. Why, in our lovely capital city of Hartford alone, people are murdered seemingly on a daily basis for the following reasons: looking at someone else’s girlfriend, wearing the wrong brand of sneakers, or simply walking down the sidewalk.
And I don’t think cheerleading should be banned because many cheerleaders have no idea what the score of the game is. It’s not uncommon for a cheerleader to shout, “MAKE A TOUCHDOWN!” only to have a fellow cheerleader say, “Touchdown? Brittany, it’s not soccer season anymore. We’re now doing basketball games. C’MON! HIT A HOME RUN!”
Sometimes the players involved in the game aren’t sure what the score is either (nor which sport they’re playing, judging by the guy from our arch-rival who frequently tackled me during high school basketball games). So if the cheerleaders aren’t paying attention to the action on the field or court, so what?
The reason I think cheerleading should be banned is simple. It’s too dangerous. A recent Associated Press story was headlined: “Cheerleading injuries on the rise.” The story explained that a study published in the journal Pediatrics states that cheerleading has “evolved from a school-spirit activity into an activity demanding high levels of gymnastics skill and athleticism.”
The study also found that during the period from 1990 through 2002, a total of 208,800 young people in America were taken to hospital emergency rooms for cheerleading-related injuries. That works out to be over 16,000 ER visits each year, or 44 per day. Just think about it: every single day of the year, 44 cheerleaders are injured and carted off to a hospital. Every day! The AP story noted that “the true number of those injured is even greater, since many kids are treated at doctors’ offices or by team trainers.” It’s an epidemic, I tell ya!
I realize that cheerleading has evolved over the years from an activity that supplemented varsity sports into a full-fledged varsity sport of its own. By the way, I don’t agree with those who claim that cheerleading has evolved over the years into an obsessive cult, complete with blood oaths and secret rituals at midnight. I’m sure the rituals conclude by 10 p.m. Cheerleading has a long way to go before it reaches the cult status of, say, youth soccer on the weekends. Now that’s a scary cult!
I’m sure cheerleading is a fun and exciting sport, at least for those participants who don’t leave the gym via a stretcher and ambulance. But it’s just too darn dangerous. I’m sure kids can have plenty of fun and excitement, without nearly as much risk, by joining the school skydiving team—with or without a parachute.
OK, I think it’s time for me to lock the doors and hide in the basement.
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