Varsity Shares ‘Cheerleading Safety Status Report’ in Honor of Cheerleading Safety Month
MEMPHIS, Tenn., March 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Varsity, the largest cheerleading organization and long-time champion for cheerleading safety, made it mission critical to increase the safety measures already in place when safety reports during the early 2000′s showed a concerning trend of injuries. Varsity not only created and implemented a Safety Awareness class for all of its more than 300,000 cheerleading camp attendees (still in practice today) but also worked with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to require that all cheerleading coaches at the college level be safety certified.
Many of these cheerleading safety accomplishments have been the result of a series of partnerships that Varsity and the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) have enacted around the cause of cheerleading safety. Founded in 1987 with initial funding from Varsity, AACCA is a nonprofit risk management organization that has certified more than 20,000 coaches in nearly 25 years, and is seen as the standard of cheerleading safety.
Recent safety studies are disproving the myths that cheerleading is not a safe activity. Increasingly, medical researchers are showing that the cheerleading community, led by Varsity, is in fact making great strides in safety. Cheerleading safety has seen the following achievements:
- For the last five years, Varsity has provided safety audits for several of the NCAA Basketball Conference tournaments, including the Big 10 and more than 20 others, to ensure the cheerleading squads are in compliance with safety requirements.
- In 2009, AACCA and Varsity announced stricter safety standards for all competitions which addressed the proper environment and equipment for cheerleading activity and clarified the requirements for spotters on the competition floor.
- The NCAA’s insurance company has not had a single catastrophic injury claim from cheerleading since 2006, when the NCAA partnered with Varsity and started requiring that coaches receive safety training like the AACCA course.
- The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) developed a Spirit Coaches Education Program in 2007, and selected the AACCA Safety Course as the first course offering. Varsity’s educational curriculum also provides technical training in the more advanced safety modules presented by the NFHS.
- In 2006 AACCA banned basket tosses and 2 1/2 high pyramids from the basketball court for college cheerleading and basket tosses for high school.
- In 2006, AACCA created a policy stating a coach found in violation the AACCA safety rules can lose his/her certification.
“Even one injury is one too many,” says Jeff Webb, Founder and CEO of Varsity. “Although we’ve seen achievements, we must continue to do more. We are driven to create the safest possible environment for all cheerleaders. As the father of a former high school cheerleader, I appreciate the benefits that cheerleading has given her, and I want to do as much as possible to continue to make it safer in the future.”
The safety improvements have been acknowledged by several safety researchers in recent years. In fact, in the 2010 update of his yearly study, Dr. Frederick Mueller, the author of the Catastrophic Sports Injury Study, cites a reduction in the incidence rate of catastrophic injuries and an increase in emphasis on cheerleading safety in the spirit community. Dr. Mueller also cites many of the Varsity and AACCA safety programs, recommending that all college coaches should have a copy of the AACCA Safety Manual.
In addition, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) released a study in 2010 in conjunction with The Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP) of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital that analyzed injury data and found that out of the 20 most popular high school sports, cheerleading now ranked 18th in frequency of injury, followed only by male and female swimming.
Varsity’s mission of cheerleading safety does not end with these recent improvements. In March of 2011, Varsity supported USA Cheer as it developed the USA Cheer Safety Council in partnership with the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) in Birmingham, Alabama, founded by Dr. James Andrews, the renowned orthopedic surgeon. Together, they will track injury statistics, create an epidemiology of injuries and make recommendations to further safe practices for all involved.
Varsity is the source for all things related to cheerleading and dance team. With a rich heritage and traditions dating back to 1948, Varsity is an innovative global leader comprised of the leading spirit brands and organizations including its educational camps, clinics, competitions and uniforms to teams around the world. Varsity’s National Championships, which are held at the Walt Disney WorldÃ‚® Resorts, have been televised on ESPN Networks for more than 25 years. Web-based Varsity TV features thousands of cheerleading and dance team videos and has become a favorite cheer destination for cheerleaders and coaches alike. Varsity has led the way in cheerleading safety as a supporter of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators since 1987 and as a camp leader training more than 300,000 cheerleaders per year in cheerleading fundamentals with an emphasis on safety. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, Varsity employs 5,000 employees nationwide. For more information about Varsity, please visit http://www.varsity.com.
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