I had a long chat with Kimberly Archie of the National Cheer Safety Foundation yesterday. For those of you that don’t know her story, I suggest Googling it, but in short she is a mom that is on a crusade to combat cheerleading injuries. She understands participating in anything athletic is going to lead, or at least contribute to, some injuries, but we agree many of the injuries, and most of the catastrophic injuries can be prevented. The problem is we don’t know how to prevent them.
Saying we don’t know how to prevent them may have been a poor choice of words. I should have said we don’t know how to get others involved in helping to prevent them. It’s not the we think people want to injure cheerleaders, but the people involved are not being intelligent about what they have the kids do. As a coach I need to teach kids in a logical, progressive manner. I need to teach them in a manner that readies them, mentally and physically, to perform each skill I ask of them. This isn’t being done by everyone. They also aren’t evaluating their surroundings in relation to what they are asking the kids to do. The skills the Kentucky kids can safely perform on a basketball court are far more advanced than what my Mini 1 team or even my Junior 5 team should attempt.
Safety comes down to a few things. The first of which is common sense and the second is training. We can’t and shouldn’t have to create rules to combat stupidity. If you aren’t smart enough to realize and reduce the potential risks of an activity, you don’t need to be involved with it. The second is training, because once we have people with a natural aversion to (unnecessary) risk, we need to train them to help keep the kids safe.