Archive for the ‘Cheerleading’ Category

Fear of Concussions in Youth Sports

More effort in awareness and education needed

The anxiety level among Americans regarding concussions was found to be quite high according to a recent online survey. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center conducted the survey among 2012 Americans over the age of 18. The results highlight the myths and misunderstanding about concussions.

Nearly 90% of those surveyed consider concussions to be a moderate to severe health concern. Nearly one-third of parents said they fear their child will suffer a concussion, and 25% do not allow their children to play contact sports because they fear they’ll suffer a concussion.

Ironically, 26% of the parents surveyed did not seek medical treatment when someone in their family suffered a concussion. Worse, 81% of those surveyed said they would not know the steps to take in treating a concussion if they sustained one.

More statistics from the survey:

  • 87% did not know the definition of a concussion, and 37% admit to being confused as to what a concussion actually is.
  • 58% could not identify headache or dizziness as immediate symptoms of a concussion.
  • Only 34% understand that fatigue is also a symptom and just 13% know that mood changes can also be the result of a concussion.
  • 79% of adults incorrectly think concussions are incurable and that the symptoms can only be managed.

Decreasing the level of fear

Fear of concussion among many parents is affecting their decision to permit their children to participate in contact sports. While there has been much progress in educating coaches, trainers, parents and players about concussion risk management and treatment, there’s much work to be done.

Sports are a healthy physical and social activity for children and teens, and fear of injury should not prevent them from participating. Concussions are treatable and when properly managed, athletes can return to play. “With careful evaluation and treatment by a well-trained specialist, even the most complex injuries are manageable,” says Erin Reynolds, fellowship director of UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Click here for the full survey results. We have more articles on concussions on our blog and offer free concussion risk management material in our risk management library.


Source: Susan Manko, “Are American Parents Too Afraid of Concussions?” futurity.org. 05 Oct, 2015.

Cheer Injuries: Low Frequency But High Severity

Risk management and coach training integral to safety

In the last 20 years, high school cheerleading has morphed from an activity on the sidelines of the athletic field to a highly competitive sport. This and the increasingly difficult stunts cheerleaders perform are contributors to the increase in serious cheer-related injuries. However, findings of a recent study published in Pediatrics show that cheer injuries tend to be more severe in nature but fewer in number in comparison to almost all other high school sports.

The study’s results found that only gymnastics had a higher proportional rate of injuries than cheer that resulted in athletes being benched for periods of three weeks to an entire season. Other significant findings are that male cheerleaders are more likely to experience injuries and that most injuries occur during practice.

What’s behind the injuries and how to prevent them

Nearly half of cheer injuries are suffered by cheerleaders who make up the formation bases for pyramids and other stunts. Fliers account for 36 percent and spotters 10 percent.

Concussions, while the most common cheer injury, were significantly lower than all other high school sports combined. However, most cheer concussions were the result of elbows and other body parts hitting a cheerleader’s head rather than the head hitting the ground or other surface. Other common cheerleading injuries are ligament fractures, sprains, and muscle strains.

The complexity of the stunts performed and the height at which cheerleaders fly mean that having an experienced coach is integral to each team, according to Mark Riederer of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan.

Proper safety equipment, making sure the cheerleaders are all at the same performance level, and having an athletic trainer on the high school staff can all help reduce the risk of injuries.

Sport or extracurricular activity?

Approximately 400,000 students across the U.S. participate in high school cheerleading each year. This number includes more than 123,000 who participate in competitive squads that include dynamic tosses pyramids, and other stunts in their routines.

Not all schools classify cheerleading as a sport. The distinction between cheer as a competitive sport and a non-athletic extracurricular activity is significant because sports incorporate stricter safety rules. For cheer rules would designate  practice locations that are relatively free from distractions and specify coach certification requirements.

All in all, cheerleading is not a particularly dangerous sport and appears to be safer than other sports, said Dustin Currie, lead author of the study. But, he added, precautions to minimize the potential risks of injury and to alleviate parents’ fear of participation in cheer should be a priority.

According to John Sadler, this information is consistent with our studies on youth cheer outside of school sports. We see relatively few injuries by frequency but some are severe. Therefore, quality, high limit Accident and General Liability insurance is still a must. Also, there is definitely a correlation between injuries and the quality of coach training and certification, as well as the standards that are being followed.

We have several articles on the topic of cheer safety on our blog and in our risk management library. And please contact us or  click here for further information or a fast quote for cheerleading insurance.


Sources:
Ashley Welch. “Cheerleading injuries less common, more severe than other sports,” cbsnew.com. 10 Dec. 2015.
Maureen Salamon. “Concussion is top injury among cheerleaders, study finds,” chicagotribune.com. 10 Dec. 2015.

Benching of Youth Participants and Resulting Lawsuits

Parents who pay want their child to play

It’s not yet what you’d call a trend, but there’s certainly an uptick in the number of parents filing lawsuits to get their child off the bench and onto the playing field.

Parents put out big bucks in registrations fees, equipment and travel costs associated with high school and youth club and travel teams, to say nothing of the time they invest attending practices and traveling to games. Many parents sacrifice their time and money for their children hoping to get the attention of college coaches, earn scholarships, and improve chances of college admissions – or even advance a professional athletic career. So, it’s understandable that some are dissatisfied when their child rides the bench more than he or she plays. In other words, they expect a payoff for their investment.

There is also an increase in lawsuits by parents of children who have been cut from teams, injured, disciplined by coaches or penalized by officials. But is hiring an attorney the answer? Many are questioning not only the attitude of entitlement, but how the children, who generally play for the fun and camaraderie, are affected by such lawsuits. What are the children learning when parents step in so heavily handed to smooth the way? Will they learn they’re entitled to play on a team simply because they attend practice? And are parents setting these athletes up to be bullied by other team members?

The increasingly competitive nature of youth sports has helped shift many parents’ focus from fun, exercise and sportsmanship to an investment in their children’s academic and professional futures. Youth sports officials are watching the case of a 16-year-old volleyball player. The girl earned spot on a volleyball league but ended up on the bench, so her parents filed suit against the volleyball association, alleging it won’t let the girl play or to switch teams, per the contract she signed.

General Liability policies, which typically only respond to certain lawsuits alleging bodily injury or property damage, don’t cover these types of lawsuits that allege loss of college scholarship or loss of pro career. Such lawsuits generally require a Professional Liability endorsement on a General Liability policy or a stand alone Professional Liability policy.


Source: Tracey Schelmetic, sportsdestinations.com, 21 Apr. 2015.

The Dangers of Cheerleading

Lack of safety standards needs attention

I recently came across a news release from the national media on cheer injuries.  In addition to the usual horror stories, it included the following points of interest:

  • Over the pasta 26 years, 73 cases of catastrophic cheerleading injuries in the U.S. have been traced by the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research at UNC.  These included fractured skulls or broken necks that led to permanent disabilities and two deaths.
  • According to estimates by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 30,000 cheerleaders are treated in emergency rooms nationCheer Stuntawide each year.
  • Emergency room visits from cheerleaders have tripled since the mid-80’s when cheerleading turned competitive and incorporated high risk gymnastics stunts. Cheerleading popularity and participation also increased during  this time.
  • High risk stunts such as basket tosses, pyramids, and certain tumbling runs top the list for injuries, which are frequently executed on gymnasium floors, grass, and dirt with nothing separating the cheerleader from the hard surfaces.
  • High school cheer is not considered an official sport in most states.  Therefore, cheer doesn’t necessitate the same limits on practice time, safety equipment, or training for coaches that are essential for other high school sports.
  • The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators (AACCA) requires cheer coaches to be certified in 13 states.  Certification often only requires an online test for coaches, which offers no training in spotting techniques or gymnastics.  And only about a dozen states regulate cheer by the rules that are set by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
  •  NFHS  offers an online cheer coach certification course comparable to the AACCA course.  Yet, each state will determine if the coach is required to take the certification course.
  • In 2010, AACCA  introduced its first set of rules, which bans double twisting dismounts and basket tosses.  However, that rule only applies to the youngest cheerleaders who are on either the elementary, middle or junior high teams.
  • Susan Loomis, the NFHS rulebook editor for spirit teams comments that there is no acting ‘cheer police’ at the high school level.  She herself does not know what the repercussions would be if someone did not follow or broke a rule.

Source:  MSNBC 

Cheer Gym vs. Competition Cheer Squad Insurance

What’s the difference?

Cheerleading is no longer simply a group of girls jumping and yelling along the sidelines of a ball game. It’s a performance sport that has exploded with nationally televised cheer competitions and even big screen movies about cheerleading. This expansion has led to competition cheer squads that go head-to-head for recreation and cheer gyms that are in the businesses of teaching cheerleading and building cheerleading groups for major competitions.

A point of confusion that we encounter when reviewing cheer insurance applications is whether the group is a competition cheer squad or a cheer gym. It is vitally important that the correct insurance coverage is written for the organization and their specific exposures.

Making the determination

Six questions that we always have to ask are:

  1. Are membership dues paid monthly, quarterly, once per season, etc.?
  2. Is the organization’s facility owned, a long term lease, private, etc.?
  3. Is the organization cheering for one team or a competition squad?
  4. How are the coaches compensated?
  5. Is the organization a 501c3 non-profit?
  6. Does a board of directors oversee and run the organization?

We understand that not all applicants fall clearly into a competition squad or cheer gym category, but these questions allow us to make an educated assessment of the needs of the organization and provide the correct cheer insurance coverages.

A cheer squad typically pays fees once per season, uses school/local facilities, cheers as a squad for sporting teams, and is coached by volunteers. A cheer gym usually pays monthly dues, owns or has a long-term lease for a facility, cheers stCheerleadersBluerictly in competitions and pays coaches a salary.

The factors few people take into consideration

There is a difference in premium cheer squad and cheer gym insurance premiums for good reason. The typical cheer squad is exposed to participant and coach injuries. Coverage is provided for the cheer squad itself as well as for the volunteers. Cheer gyms have a much greater risk of exposure than a cheer squad. The following points are taken into account when determining exposures of cheer gyms:

  • The operation or long-term use of a facility creates a property exposure for anyone that comes onto the property and sustains a premises-related injury.
  • Some cheer gyms provide extra services, such as private lessons, birthday parties, after school programs and/or soft play areas.
  • Being run as a business means the coaches of cheer gyms are considered experts in the sport of cheerleading. This increases the standard of care owed to the participants and the bodily injury liability exposure.
  • A professional liability exposure may result if the participant of a cheer gym sues over not being offered a college scholarship, or other expected benefits due to improper coaching.

Being under insured is just as risky as being uninsured. The cheer gym owner/trainer can lose personal assets, future earnings and even their business in the event a lawsuit arises and the correct coverage isn’t in force. No cheer gym owner should take the risk of losing everything in the event of a devastating injury resulting in lawsuit in order to save a few dollars on premium.

Please visit our website for more information on Cheer School & Cheer Gym Insurance and Cheer Squad Insurance.

 

Cheerleading Causing Catastrophic Injuries

Regulated or not, cheering poses serious risks

Cheerleading has evolved well past the days of “Rah, rah, rah, GO TEAM” It has quickly become one of the most dangerous sports among young women. According to an article in the Washington Post, cheerleading accounts for more than half of all catastrophic injuries to girl athletes.  We have seen an increased number of squads that are not just cheering for a localsports team, but are in competition for themselves.

Concussions and the serious side effects associated with them are in the news for good reason, but usually associated with football and soccer players. Concussions suffered by cheerleaders apparently aren’t being reported as frequently as those suffered in other sports. This could be a result of the ongoing effort of cheerleaders, coaches and parents to gain respectability for the sport.

Much of the concern for young athletes at risk for concussion goes to the obvious heavy-hitters:  football, soccer, basketball.  But an expert who studies the injury in youth sports say one major activity is being overlooked: cheerleading.

Female athletes may be at even higher risk for suffering a concussion than their male counterparts.  Girls’ neck muscles are generally weaker than boys’, making them more susceptible to dangers that come from rapid acceleration or deceleration, and whiplash.Melissa Dahl, msnbc.com

It is always important to make sure that the participants are well trained, not only in the how to execute stunts, but to do them in ways to protect themselves and their squad members.

We offer cheerleading insurance for teams and cheer school. For more information or a quote, call us at (800) 622-7370.

2014 AYF/AYC Insurance Program Released

The gold standard that is the envy of the competition

AYF LogoThe American Youth Football and American Youth Cheer endorsed insurance provider, Sadler Sports Insurance, has released the new 2014 insurance program for teams /associations /conferences.  Detailed 2014 coverage and rate information  is now available on our website Our online enrollment will become operational on May 15, 2014.

The 2014 offering is, once again, the gold standard in youth football and cheer insurance with an unbeatable combination of low rates, broad custom coverages, and best-in-industry automation that allows instant online enrollment and issuance of proof of coverage documents and certificates for field owners. But that’s not all: the program also provides best-in-industry risk management resources to prevent injuries before they become claims and groundbreaking studies on safety in youth football and cheer.

Apply, pay, and print proof of coverage documents and certificates in as little as 10 minutes

Our advanced automation is so simple and fast that you can complete the entire insurance purchase transaction and print all your documents in as little as 10 minutes. Many competitors require the completion of forms and days of waiting just to get a quote. Then, once the quote is bound, it can take several days to get the proof of coverage document sand certificates for field owners. Or, they could charge $100 extra for next day rush delivery.

After the purchase, we provide our clients access to our website so that they can self-issue certificates for new field owners 24/7. It’s so easy and our clients love this benefit.

Beware of competing programs that seem too good to be true

We often hear stories about a competitor offering cut-rate policies with a per team rate that is too low to be believable. Whenever this happens, something ends up being defective with the offering, which illustrates that if something is too good to be true, it usually is. We’ve seen cases where the quoted price did not include the cost of both the Accident and General Liability policies, where the organization never reported the transaction to the insurance carrier and no insurance was in force, and where a big corporation was going to foot the bill for the insurance (dream on), etc. After a little bit of digging, these schemes fall apart.

What is being done to combat the risk of concussion/brain injury and related litigation?

Sadler Sports Insurance has released a new Football/Cheer Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program (short form) that is strongly recommended for all teams/associations/conferences. This free program can be downloaded from our risk management page. This program consolidates accepted risk management practices into a three-page document for easy board adoption and implementation. An important element of this program is the new Tackle Sure coach training program, which is endorsed by AYF. The cost is $5 per coach and covers effective and safe tackling techniques on a step -by-step basis. It is important for all teams/association/conferences to thicken their shields by adopting and fully implementing a comprehensive concussion/brain injury risk management program. The future of our sports depends on this action and it’s the right thing to do to protect the kids.

What is being done to combat sex abuse/molestation post Sandusky?

We introduced a simple one-page Child Abuse/Molestation Protection Program – Administrators (short form) that, if adopted by your board and fully implemented, will greatly lessen the chances of an incident occurring within your program. The free program can be downloaded from from our risk management page.

Best-in-industry risk management resources (free)

We have an incredible line up of free risk management resources including articles, legal forms, risk management program templates in  Microsoft WORD format for your easy adoption and customization, and training videos for administrators and staff. This includes the newly created document entitled Sample AYF/AYC Advanced Plan, which is a comprehensive risk management program customized for AYF/AYC organizations and is available exclusively to our current clients in the password protected section of our risk management page.

Be a part of groundbreaking injury studies

If you purchase your insurance through the endorsed insurance program, all Accident claims automatically become part of the database where our custom software analyzes the information to produce meaningful injury reports. This has led to groundbreaking studies on  the comparison of injuries in age only vs age/weight categories and the incidence of concussions within AYF/AYC.

 

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.

Cheerleading Should Be Classified as a Sport

The American Academy of Pediatrics weighs in

The American Academy of Pediatrics announced it’s recommendation that cheerleading  be classified as a sport in all 50 states. This would mean cheerleaders would receive the same safety attention as other athletes. Currently, only 29 states classify cheerleading as a sport, an activity that approximately 3 million girls participate in every year. There is an average of 26,000 cheerleading injuries  each year, and there were 37,000 injuries requiring emergency room treatment reported in 2011.

According to NBC Nightly News video below, performing the high-flying lifts and flips requires the skills of a gymnast. Injuries have been surging in terms of broken bones and concussions. In addition, 66% of all catastrophic injuries to high school girls occur in cheerleading. Falling from 15 to 18′ in the air while performing can result in skull fractures, broken necks, and broken bones.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the following should be mandated:

  • Qualified coaches
  • Better medical care
  • Limits on practice time

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Source: NBC Nightly News

A Reality Check for Youth Sports Administrators

Learn from the Paterno, Spanier, Curley and McQuery mistakes

This blog post isn’t specifically about the Penn State case and who was or wasn’t fired. Rather it’s a reality check for all involved with youth: no one is invincible. Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Mike McQuery did not commit the physical crimes against children that Jerry Sandusky did.  However, they were responsible and liable for their own actions when there is even a hint that someone is abusing a child.

The Penn State case is making national headlines because of its legendary coach and its football program, but it’s important to understand that such behavior occurs frequently in youth sports.  Most readers of this blog are involved in teams/leagues/youth programs in sYouth sports risk managementome capacity or another. Are you a coach, athletic director, team mom or a parent on the sidelines?  Whatever your position, today is the day to step back and realize where exactly you fit into the lives of the kids participating in your youth sports organization.  You are there to protect them at all costs.

Our previous blog post, Child Predators in Youth Sports, is a must read for anyone who is involved with children. It includes a link to a Sports Illustrated article written with the help of actual predators in youth programs detailing how they got away with their crimes. Did you know that, according to the article, studies have found that the average molester victimizes about 120 children before he is caught? That’s extremely disturbing! The blog post also offers useful risk management guidelines that your organization can implement today. And share this post with others so that we all can make a difference.

Follow this link for more articles on preventing sexual abuse and molestation.