BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Hannah Backman will be the first to argue cheerleading is a sport. As the co-captain of the John F. Kennedy High School cheerleading team she knows firsthand the toll it can take on the body.
"I've had scratches and I've had bruises. One time I had scratches here to here on both arms after a stunt and they were bruised pretty bad," she said.
She's not the only one. Her teammates have injury stories too.
"Actually right now I'm kind of recovering from a torn meniscus in my knee. I'm not sure where and when I did it but I know it's from cheerleading." Kendra Marbray, said.
"I've gotten hit in the face a lot and scratches from when we're coming down from cradles," Tianna Wokocha, said.
As injuries increase the American Academy of Pediatrics urges that more needs to be done.
Dr. Suzanne Hecht with the University of Minnesota agrees. As stunts get more intense so do the injuries. Hecht sees it first hand as the team physician for the Gopher cheerleaders.
"A lot of times we'll see a couple cheerleaders with a concussion and a couple football players," Hecht said.
The most common injuries are sprains, strains, fractures and concussions, according to Hecht.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends designating cheerleading as a sport. Doing so would allow participants access to better training facilities, coaches and trainers, just like other athletes, according to the proposed guidelines.
In Minnesota the state high school league does not consider cheerleading a competitive sport. Instead, it classifies cheerleading as a "support" activity.
Official sport or not, none of that matters to Backman and her fellow Eagles cheerleaders. They just roll with the punches, sometimes literally.
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