BY IRENE MASLOWSKI
SPECIAL TO NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
As the fall sport season kicks off, parents, coaches and trainers are focusing their attention on the safety of their players, but statistics show that injuries on the sidelines - among cheerleaders - rank almost as high as those that take place on the field.
Cheerleading is the top sport for young female athletes, with more than 500,000 participating in high school programs alone. The sport has changed dramatically from the days of simple pom-poms and megaphones to include strenuous and challenging gymnastic routines. That has, in turn, led to an increase in injuries. In fact, more than 30,000 cheerleaders are treated in emergency rooms each year, a number that has tripled since 1980.