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Tulsa Cheerleaders Say What They Do Is A Sport

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© Cheerleaders we spoke to say they've been bumped around and even required some surgeries. © Cheerleaders we spoke to say they've been bumped around and even required some surgeries.
So is cheerleading a sport? These high school seniors think so. So is cheerleading a sport? These high school seniors think so.
Coaches like Julie Norton say teaching safer cheerleading is always top on their list. Coaches like Julie Norton say teaching safer cheerleading is always top on their list.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Is high school cheerleading a sport? The injuries cheerleaders receive show they take their knocks like other athletes.

In June, an Illinois delegation of doctors attending the American Medical Association's annual meeting, asked the association to adopt a policy on cheerleading as a sport.

Cheerleaders we spoke to say they've been bumped around and even required some surgeries. Doctors want coaches to get more training to reduce those injuries.

"I think it's just as physically demanding as any other sport that I play. I mean, I'm just as tired after a cheer practice as I am after a soccer practice," said Carlie Cook.

Cook and her teammates cheer for Cascia Hall in Tulsa. They're seen on the sidelines, but cheering has evolved over the years, becoming more and more competitive.

"There's no slow-down whatsoever. Whether it's a sport or not, it's going to progress to a higher and higher level," said cheerleading coach Julie Norton.

Cheer experts say its the second-most dangerous sport, after football.

A 2011 study says two-thirds of all catastrophic injuries to female athletes can be traced back to cheering.

"I've hurt my ankle. I've broken my nose - had surgery on that - and I've dislocated my shoulder. It's just tough on your body," said Haley Boone.

Tumbling maneuvers and high-flying stunts prompted the Illinois delegation to the American Medical Association introduce a resolution addressing the health risks of cheerleading.

So is cheerleading a sport? These high school seniors think so.

"I think they definitely should, especially because we do have a competition aspect of it, like we compete against other teams and we have a first place winner like it is a competition. I don't think there should be any reason why it shouldn't be considered a sport," Cook said.

Boone agreed: "You're in the gym all the time. You have so many injuries just as gymnastics, just like football or track. You practice just as much as them. You have to put in as much time."

Since 1991, the state of Oklahoma has regulated cheer in schools. It has determined competitive cheerleading is an athletic event and held cheerleaders to the same eligibility requirement as athletes for other sports.

Coaches like Julie Norton say teaching safer cheerleading is always top on their list.

"Every year, we are taking steps to train coaches as far as concussion awareness, injury awareness, care and prevention. They make these requirements for every coach," Norton said.

The NCAA has yet to accept cheerleading as a college-level sport, because of Title IX issues.

In October 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that cheerleading should be designated a sport at both the high school and collegiate levels.

The American Medical Association decided not to take action on the resolution proposed by Illinois physicians. It was referred to a future meeting.

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