Written by Corbett Smith
Cheerleading risks lead to call for UIL oversight
AUSTIN — Concerned about the health risks associated with cheerleading, the University Interscholastic League’s Medical Advisory Committee has recommended that cheerleading be added to the list of activities the league oversees.
UIL athletic director Mark Cousins said that the recommendation — which has to be approved by the league’s Legislative Council in June and signed by the Texas commissioner of education to be put into effect — would bring cheerleading under the umbrella of protections currently in place for the state’s other student-athletes.
Cousins said it would address a number of issues: requiring that cheerleaders be held to the concussion protocols established by Texas House Bill 2038, making sure cheer coaches are educated on safety issues and requiring cheerleaders to get preparticipation physical screenings.
In a letter to the UIL in January, the Texas Medical Association asked for the league to add its oversight, stating that doing so would “be a bold move to ensure we have a state system focused on injury prevention under consistent, evidence-based safety guidelines.”
The league, however, doesn’t oversee activities without holding competitions in those events.
The director of the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators, Jim Lord, addressed the committee. He cautioned that creating competitive cheer in the state would be counterproductive to the participants’ safety and well-being because it would increase the difficulty and number of routines that could cause injuries.
Cousins said it would be up to the superintendents on the Legislative Council to decide what cheerleading might look like under the auspices of the UIL.
Briefly: The majority of discussion during the Medical Advisory Committee meeting dealt with cardiac screening. Thomas DeBauche, a doctor with the Cypress ECG project, a Houston area nonprofit focused on screening high school athletes, spoke at length, asking for a recommendation that electrocardiograms be made available to every UIL athlete, coach, attending physician or trainer who requests the procedure. The committee did not make a recommendation, citing concerns including that the American Heart Association doesn’t support requiring screens for high school athletes. … Only four positive tests occurred in the last round of steroid testing by the UIL, out of 1,789 samples. In the program’s history, only 35 students have been shown to be using anabolic steroids, out of 63,010 tests.