Is Cheerleading More Dangerous Than Football?

Cheerleading and football are two popular sports in the United States, with millions of young athletes participating each year. However, while football is often considered one of the most dangerous sports due to its high risk of concussions and other serious injuries, many people are surprised to learn that cheerleading may actually be more dangerous than football. This debate has heated up in recent years as more and more studies have been conducted and injuries reported in both sports.

Despite its reputation as a fun and harmless activity, cheerleading is actually a highly athletic and physically demanding sport that requires a great deal of strength, flexibility, and coordination. In fact, according to a study by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, cheerleading accounted for nearly 65% of all catastrophic injuries among female athletes in high school and college between 1982 and 2009, compared to just 28% for football. This raises an important question: is cheerleading really more dangerous than football?

Is Cheerleading More Dangerous Than Football

Cheerleading & Football Injuries: A Closer Look at the Statistics

The Risks of Cheerleading

Cheerleading is a sport that requires strength, agility, and coordination. However, it is also a sport that comes with a high risk of injury. The stunts, flips, and jumps performed by cheerleaders can result in serious injuries, such as concussions, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries.

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A study conducted by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research found that between 1982 and 2015, cheerleading accounted for 66% of all catastrophic injuries in female athletes. This is a concerning statistic that highlights the need for proper safety measures in cheerleading.

To mitigate the risks of injury, cheerleaders should receive proper training and coaching, wear appropriate safety gear, and perform stunts and routines in a controlled environment. Additionally, coaches and school administrators should prioritize the safety of their cheerleading teams and enforce strict safety guidelines.

Better Safety Measures

One way to improve safety measures in cheerleading is to promote the use of mats and safety equipment. Mats can provide a cushioned landing spot for cheerleaders performing high-risk stunts, such as flips and aerials. Safety equipment, such as helmets, can also help prevent head injuries.

Another way to improve safety is to ensure that cheerleaders are properly trained and supervised. Coaches should be certified and have the knowledge and expertise to teach proper technique and safety measures. Cheerleaders should also be required to undergo regular physical exams to ensure that they are fit to participate in the sport.

The Risks of Football

Football is a contact sport that also comes with a high risk of injury. Players are at risk of concussions, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries. However, unlike cheerleading, football has more safety measures in place to protect players.

Football players wear helmets and padding to help prevent head and body injuries. Additionally, the rules of the sport are designed to minimize the risk of injury, such as prohibiting certain types of tackles.

Benefits of Football

Despite the risks, football has many benefits for players. It promotes physical fitness, teamwork, and leadership skills. It also provides opportunities for players to earn scholarships and pursue careers in professional football.

Cheerleading vs Football

When it comes to comparing the risks of cheerleading and football, it is important to note that both sports come with a high risk of injury. However, football has more safety measures in place to protect players, while cheerleading is still working on improving safety measures.

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In terms of benefits, both sports have their own unique advantages. Football promotes physical fitness and teamwork, while cheerleading promotes coordination and leadership skills.

[FAQs] [FAQs] Frequently Asked Questions

What safety measures are in place for cheerleading and football?

Both cheerleading and football have implemented safety measures to reduce the risk of injury. In cheerleading, there are strict regulations in place regarding stunts and tumbling. Cheerleaders must be properly trained and supervised, and all stunts must be performed on appropriate surfaces with proper matting. In addition, cheerleaders are required to wear appropriate safety gear such as helmets, mouthguards, and ankle braces.

Similarly, football has implemented safety measures such as rules to reduce the risk of concussions. For example, players are not allowed to make contact with their helmets and are required to undergo concussion testing after any head injury. Football players are also required to wear appropriate safety gear such as helmets, shoulder pads, and mouthguards.

However, it is important to note that safety measures are only effective if they are followed properly. Proper training, equipment, and supervision are all essential components of safety in both cheerleading and football.

What is the best age for cheerleading?

The best age for starting cheerleading can depend on several factors, including the child’s physical development, skill level, and personal interest in the sport. Generally, most cheerleading programs accept children as young as four years old for recreational or “tiny cheer” programs, while competitive cheerleading often starts around age six or seven.

It is important for children to have a certain level of physical development and coordination to safely participate in cheerleading, as the sport involves stunts, jumps, and tumbling that require strength and agility. Younger children may focus more on basic skills and routines, while older children and teenagers may progress to more advanced skills and routines.

Does cheer have more concussions than football?

It is difficult to make a direct comparison between the incidence of concussions in cheerleading and football, as the nature and frequency of head impacts can vary widely between these sports and depend on several factors such as the level of competition, rules and regulations, coaching, and equipment.

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However, research suggests that cheerleading is a relatively high-risk sport for head injuries, including concussions. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, cheerleading accounted for 66% of all catastrophic injuries among female high school athletes in the United States between 1982 and 2015, with head injuries being the most common type. Another study by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research found that cheerleading accounted for 70.5% of all catastrophic injuries among female athletes in college sports between 1982 and 2015.

On the other hand, football is often considered the sport with the highest incidence of concussions, particularly at the professional level. According to the NFL, there were 281 diagnosed concussions during the 2019 season, which is a decrease from previous years. However, it is worth noting that the incidence of concussions in football has led to increased attention and efforts to improve player safety, including changes in rules and equipment, improved medical protocols, and concussion education.

The Dark Reality Of NFL Cheerleading


Cheerleading and football are two of the most popular sports in America, but which one is more dangerous? While both sports carry risks, cheerleading has been found to have a higher rate of serious injuries than football. Cheerleading has evolved from sideline support to a highly competitive and physically demanding sport, with athletes performing complex gymnastics and stunts that put them at risk for serious injuries.

Despite the risks, cheerleading remains a popular sport among young athletes. It requires a great deal of strength, agility, and teamwork, and can be a rewarding experience for those who participate. However, it is important for coaches and athletes to prioritize safety and take necessary precautions to prevent injuries. While football has its own set of risks, including concussions and other head injuries, it is important to recognize that cheerleading should not be overlooked as a potentially dangerous sport. As with any physical activity, careful training, proper equipment, and a commitment to safety can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all involved.


While both cheerleading and football come with risks of injury, it is important to prioritize safety measures in both sports. Cheerleading should continue to improve safety measures to reduce the risk of catastrophic injuries, while football should continue to enforce safety rules and promote the use of proper equipment.

Ultimately, the decision to participate in either sport should be based on personal preference and a thorough understanding of the risks and benefits involved.

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