Posts Tagged ‘AYF/AYC sports insurance’

American Youth Cheer Releases Study on Injury Trends 2005-15

Posted | Filed under Cheerleading

American Youth Cheer (AYC), the cheer division of American Youth Football (AYF), has released a study of injuries reported under its Accident insurance program through the endorsed insurance provider, Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance.

The study consists of 183 injuries reported from 2005 to 2015 for cheerleaders ages 5 to 18 with the vast majority in the 5 to 15 age group. AYC includes both sideline cheer and competitive cheer.  The injury descriptions are collected on an injury report form that is completed by the authorized cheer coach prior to submitting an insurance claim. Page 3 of the AYC injury report includes 20 questions about the circumstances of each injury and the answers are entered into a database from which reports are generated.

Importance of the AYC study

Cheerleading has evolved from a primarily sideline activity into highly competitive sport with more complex stunts and gymnastics-like maneuvers. Even sideline cheer has adopted some of the same stunts and maneuvers. This has greatly increased the risk factors involved. As a result, injuries have risen dramatically, as reported by many sources.

Cheer injury studies are scarce due to the fragmented nature of the industry with so many sanctioning bodies and lack of injury data collection. An excellent article published in 2012 by the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association entitled  “Cheerleading Injuries: A Narrative Review of The Literature” compiles the results from 23 unique articles on cheerleader injuries.  The ongoing AYC study which began in 2005 provides a consistent source of additional information on cheer injury trends.

Limitations of the AYC study

Since all injuries are reported from Accident insurance claims, the AYC study overstates the more serious injuries that require outside medical treatment and understates the minor injuries where medical treatment was not sought or where an on-site trainer provided treatment. In addition, the number of total claims in the database is surprisingly low taking into account the number of cheer participants at risk. However, the study does represent a reasonably accurate overview of the types of cheer injury trends that occur within AYC and youth cheer as a whole.

Cheer injuries are much less frequent than football injuries in combined program

Between 2005 and 2015, 183 cheer injuries were captured within AYC.  Over the same time period, 3,855 football injuries were reported within AYF. Cheer injuries only account for approximately 4.5% of the injuries that occur in the combined AYF/AYC program. However, after taking into account that football players outnumber cheerleaders by a wide margin in the combined program, the participant adjusted percentage of injuries attributable to cheer is approximately 14%.

Catastrophic cheer injuries in AYC

According to the National Center For Catastrophic Sports Injury Research report, “Catastrophic Sports Injury Research: 1982-2014,” cheerleading has the highest catastrophic injury rate of all high school sports. Fortunately, the AYC Accident insurance program has never experienced a catastrophic injury claim. However, local cheer program administrators and staff must always be vigilant of the potential for catastrophic injuries in cheer, and as a result should implement the risk management suggestions that appear later in this article.

Absence from play after an injury

3+ weeks 30%
1 – 3 weeks 26%
1-7 days 14%
None 13%
Not answered/unknown 17%
TOTAL 100%

Note that many of the less serious injuries were never reported as Accident insurance claims. As a result, this category tends to overstate the length of absence from play.

When injury occurred

Practice 76%
Before game/practice 7%
Competitive cheer event 5%
After game/practice 4%
Halftime 2%
Sideline 1%
Other 5%
Total 100%

Other studies have confirmed that the majority of cheer injuries occur during practice. Not only are more hours devoted to practice than play, but new tumbles and stunts are learned during practice. It makes sense that learning a new tumble or stunt entails a higher risk of injury.

Location of injury

Indoor practice area 45%
Field 22%
Sidelines 6%
Outdoor practice area 5%
Indoor competition area 4%
Practice field 3%
Other 15%
TOTAL 100%

Once again, these results confirm that most injuries occur during practice.

Surface type

Grass 37%
Flat, non-spring 26%
Mat 17%
Spring 9%
Concrete 6%
Other 5%
TOTAL 100%

Body part injured

Head/temple 12%
Ankle 10%
Knee 10%
Wrist 9%
Elbow 8%
Shoulder/collarbone 8%
Forearm 8%
Mouth/teetch 7%
Neck 5%
Upper arm 3%
Back 3%
Nose 3%
Finger/thumb 3%
Hand 2%
Foot 2%
Other 7%
TOTAL 100%

Other studies that capture data from all injuries (not just Accident insurance claims) indicate that ankles are the most common body part injured during cheer. Cheerleaders are thought to be susceptible to ankle injuries due to landing mechanics in an erect position, the prevalence of hard surfaces with lack of shock absorption, and difficult maneuvers.

Type of injury

Fracture 35%
Joint sprain/strain 21%
Concussion 10%
Dislocation 7%
Bruise/contusion 7%
Dental 5%
Cut/scrape 4%
Pulled muscle 2%
Not answered/other 9%
TOTAL 100%

Because the injuries in the AYC study are taken from Accident insurance claims where medical treatment has been sought, fractures tend to be overstated. Other studies on all cheer injuries (including incidents where medical treatment is not sought) indicate that the most common injury types are sprains/strains.

The American Academy of Pediatrics 2015 study “Cheerleading Injuries in United States High Schools” reported that concussions accounted for 31% of total injuries. Clearly, the percentage of concussions occurring in youth based non-scholastic cheer is much lower.

Position while injured

Flyer 35%
Tumbler 14%
Right-side base 8%
Back spotter 8%
Not applicable 6%
Left-side base 6%
Standing in cheer line 4%
Coach 4%
Base, not specified 2%
Front spotter 1%
Other 12%
TOTAL 100%

It’s not surprising that flyers are injured most frequently from falls as contact with ground and collisions with teammates are the leading physical causes of injury in the AYC study.

Type of tumble or stunt while injured

Prep or extended elevator 21%
Prep or extended cradle 9%
Roundoff 4%
Prep or extended full twist down cradle 4%
Cartwheel 4%
Standing back handspring 3%
Full twist 3%
Basket toss 3%
Sideline cheer – no stunt or tumble 2%
Prep/extended awesome/cupie 2%
Dancing – not stunt or tumbling 2%
Back walkover 2%
Other 31%
Not answered 10%
TOTAL 100%

Note the high number of injury report responses falling under “other” and “not answered.” This is an indication that there is not widespread agreement over the names of the types of stunt or the fact that some stunts have multiple names.             

Physical cause of injury

Contact with ground 53%
Collision with teammate 20%
Catching 7%
Non-contact 6%
Supporting weight 5%
Other 4%
Not answered 3%
Hit by other object 2%
TOTAL 100%

Activity while injured

Flying 32%
Tumbling 13%
Catching 13%
Supporting 7%
Walking 4%
Running 4%
Lifting 4%
Spotting 3%
Sitting/standing/walking – not specified 3%
Dismounting 3%
Coaching 2%
Other 12%
TOTAL 100%

Risk management recommendations

AYC has experienced many fewer injuries than its football counterpart, AYF. There have been no catastrophic injuries recorded in AYC since injury tracking began in 2005 or any prior to that period.

However, it is strongly recommended that all local cheer programs consider the following risk management practices:

Sadler Insurance Introduces New Improved AYF Insurance Webpage and Video

Sadler Sports Insurance has updated the American Youth Football/Cheer Insurance webpage for an enhanced user experience. The new webpage allows our AYF prospects and clients to access all insurance and risk management services (ex: applying, renewing, issuing certificates, add/delete teams, claims, etc.) without ever having to speak to a Sadler staff member. However, should a client have a question or need help with a service request, we stand ready to assist by chat, email, or phone. We’re proud of our service staff, which has a 98% “awesome” rating by the prospects and clients who have contacted us. The new webpage also lists all of our football and cheer specific risk management content on the same page so that it is no longer necessary to navigate to another page on our website.

In addition, we just produced a new video that we prepared for our local  AYF team/association/conference prospects and clients that explains all aspects of our insurance and risk management program. The video covers the following topics:

  • Risks of going uninsured or underinsured
  • 12 reasons why our program blows away the competition
  • Brief description of all 5 policies and why you need them
  • What you need to know before you apply
  • How to apply
  • How to access policy services
  • A review of our most important risk management content and blog articles

This video can be found by scrolling down the webpage and can be viewed individually or played for a small group to educate your board and administrators.

We hope you’ll check out our new website by clicking here. 

American Youth Football and American Youth Cheer Insurance

The Gold Standard

The risky world of youth tackle and cheer

In the high risk world of youth tackle football, flag, & cheer, risk is everywhere in the form of concussions, spinal injuries, cheer stunts, sex abuse and molestation, lack of supervision, lack of instruction, premises problems, equipment problems, etc. In this world, administrators and staff (volunteer and paid) are putting their personal assets on the chopping block every day should an unfortunate mishap occur and result in a lawsuit. This is especially true if the insurance that was purchased to protect against this risk is inadequate.

Competitors often offer inadequate coverage to AYF/AYC

What is inadequate insurance? It could be that the limits are not high enough, but the more common situation occurs when the coverage within the limits includes unacceptable coverage exclusions or loopholes. And these unacceptable coverage exclusions are much more common than you may think, and can even exist if the program is another national association program. Sadler Sports Insurance has fought the battle against these unacceptable exclusions for many years by both educating the public and our competitors. We bring a problem area to the attention of our clients and offer a custom solution Then, within the next year or two, our competitors adopt it and act like it was their idea all along.

But competitors who merely attempt to copy the industry leader are not innovators and will always lag behind.

As for inadequate limits, many organizations no longer feel comfortable with an Each Occurrence Limit of only $1 million. After all, youth tackle football and cheer is more risky compared to some other popular sports. Therefore, an Each Occurrence limit of $2 million or $5 million should be strongly considered. The Each Occurrence limit applies to the amount that is available to respond to any single lawsuit.

The General Aggregate limit is a whole different issue. The General Aggregate is the amount that is available to respond to multiple lawsuits during the policy year. Many competitors offer a General Liability Each Occurrence Limit of $1 million and a General Aggregate limit of $2 million. A General Aggregate limit of at least $5 million may be necessary in the event that multiple lawsuits are filed during the same policy year. One recent concern in this area is the possibility of class action lawsuits by players over brain damage caused by sub-concussive impacts YOUTH FOOTBALL(CTE) from helmet-to-helmet hits. The jury is still very much out on this issue and hopefully such talk is just media hype. However, the possibility does exist.

AYF is leading the way with coach training in the area of concussions and the endorsed insurance program is structured in such a way as to offer superior protection to that of most competing programs.

Examples of common unacceptable exclusions under a General Liability policy include but are not limited to:

  • volunteer vs volunteer
  • participant vs participant
  • player vs player
  • cheer stunts and pyramiding
  • bleacher collapse
  • contractual liability limitation
  • sexual abuse and molestation
  • warranty of waiver/release, warranty of concussion training
  • punitive damages
  • assault and battery
  • athletic participant

We provide a checklist that can be used to analyze a competitor’s program against the AYF/AYC endorsed program, which is especially instructive in terms of revealing unacceptable exclusions.  Sadler Sports Insurance would be glad to assist in the comparison process if you can provide a copy of the competitor’s actual policy forms (Accident and General Liability). Unfortunately, you really don’t know much if you are relying on a competitor’s certificate of insurance or proposal as those documents are not required to include information on the policy exclusions.

Beware of competitor claims that seem too good to be true

A certain amount of self promotion and puffery is expected when advertising any product or service. However, some competitors may claim to have the best and lowest priced insurance product in the market as an attention grabber but that may not be the case after the dust settles. Whenever a claim or offer sounds too good to be true, it always is too good to be true in my experience. The incredible, attractive offer usually does not hold up due to the following reasons:Football Cheerleader

  1. The coverage is not comparable in terms of policies offered (Accident policy not included in price), policy limits are too low, or it includes unacceptable exclusions from coverage.
  2. The initial quote provided ends up being much lower than the final proposal because it was based on a suppressed number of teams or participants. In the meantime, you have wasted hours of time in providing information just to get the final proposal.

Other advantages of the endorsed AYF/AYC insurance program

Only the endorsed AYF/AYC program offers an instant online proposal, payment, binding of coverage, and issuance of proof of coverage documents and certificates of insurance for field owners in real time. This entire process can take days or weeks with our competitors and can be very frustrating when not having a certificate of insurance is keeping you off the practice field.

All of the Accident claims data from the endorsed program is compiled in a special software program that crunches the numbers in a way to produce meaningful information about how injuries can be prevented and how the game can be modified, if necessary, to promote safety. This data has already been used to illustrate that age only divisions in youth tackle football are no more risky than age/weight divisions. When you participate in the endorsed program, your loss data is used in a meaningful way to improve the safety of the game.

We offer free best-in-industry risk management content including articles, forms, risk management program templates, and training videos on general safety and sex abuse/molestation protection in the risk management section of our website.

The AYF/AYC endorsed insurance program is the industry leader and offers the best protection now and in the future for the players, volunteers, administrators, and youth football industry.