U.S. fact of the day

by on August 17, 2008 at 8:26 am in Sports | Permalink


High school cheerleading accounted for 65.1 percent of all catastrophic
sports injuries among high school females over the past 25 years.

Here is the link, with a photo.  Loyal MR readers will know that I am a strong and genuine non-paternalist.  But if you are a paternalist, and you are looking for one place to start, well…it’s not just the injuries that should point your attention in this direction.  We have to raise tax revenue from somewhere, right?  Currently we are subsidizing cheerleading and, along the lines of Robert Frank’s column, that makes no more sense than subsidizing fuel

Anonymous August 17, 2008 at 8:44 am

I like human pyramids! But in my limited experience high school cheerleaders are not the brightest bulbs, and their parents (usually the moms) are some of the most obnoxious stage parents I’ve ever met. Like beauty pageant folks on steroids.

Subsidize high school football, track, futbal (soccer), rugby, baseball, and basketball. Crew, gymnastics, swimming, and lacrosse (and field hockey?) usually have financially-able and supportive parents.

liberalarts August 17, 2008 at 9:32 am

Is cheerleading being subsidized, or is it another subsidy for football and basketball teams? I am no fan of cheerleading, but without a doubt, if all the revenues and costs of highschool sports and activities were to be eliminated, the elimination of the boy sports and activities would save more tax money than the girl sports and activities. [My chess team was 100% male and maybe soaked up $50 a year in costs. Surprisingly, the cheerleaders did not come to our tournaments.]

Anonymous August 17, 2008 at 10:07 am

Oh, subsidize chess and math and science clubs, too.

Bob Murphy August 17, 2008 at 10:39 am

“High school cheerleading accounted for 65.1 percent of all catastrophic sports injuries among high school females over the past 25 years.”

Isn’t this rather irrelevant? Shouldn’t we measure something like, the number of catastrophic injuries per girl-hour devoted to the event? More American high school girls got hurt cheerleading than playing Russian roulette–at least I hope!–during the last 25 years too; it doesn’t prove cheerleading is more dangerous.

Bob Murphy August 17, 2008 at 10:57 am

One last issue and I’ll be quiet: When TC says “[c]urrently we are subsidizing cheerleading,” what does he mean? Is he referring to tax dollars going to public schools that have cheerleading squads? Or is he even including private schools, where general tuition from everybody goes into paying for the cheerleading squad?

Either way, someone could use the same neoclassical framework to prove the opposite. We could invent all sorts of positive externalities from the existence of cheerleading squads and claim the market is providing an inefficiently low number of cheerleaders. That’s why I distrust Pigovian analyses, because you can often cherry pick the effects of something to get whatever answer you want.

randy August 17, 2008 at 11:51 am

i wonder what possessed those 26 cheerleaders to see how many they could jam into a single elevator? maybe their constant inner chatter of “look at how skinny i am” was particularly strong and pervasive throughout the entire gaggle of girls. and to prove it, they decided to see how many of their skinny little hotbodies they could fit in the elevator?

Finja August 17, 2008 at 12:36 pm

I wonder, what’s the sport that accounts for the highest percentage of catastrophic injuries for guys?
Must be something like Football… so, why not a ban on Football?
And as liberalarts already pointed out, this makes even financially more sense…

brent August 17, 2008 at 1:17 pm

Cheerleading should be subsidized. First, it enforces important gender norms. And second, the girls are usually cute and wear short skirts. Easily a net win for society.

My high school girlfriend was a cheerleader. Now she’s an investment banker in Moscow, albeit one with atypically muscular calves.

Dude cheerleaders, of course, should be taxed heavily.

Bernard Yomtov August 17, 2008 at 4:28 pm

it is probative, certainly, regarding the activity’s relative risk.

I don’t think so. Not without knowing how much participation there is in cheerleading vs other sports, and how often cheerleaders perform vs other activities. Note among other things that it covers 25 years, during which there has been a large expansion in women’s sports. How much of this 65% was racked up when there were many fewer athletic opportunities for women than today?

Besides, dig into this and you find 67 serious injuries in 25 years, when there are 92,500 female H.S. cheerleaders every year.

save_the_rustbelt August 17, 2008 at 10:23 pm

Do not mess with cheerleaders in Texas, the moms will put a hit on you. They don’t mess around.

Amber August 18, 2008 at 10:27 am

Football is actually the most evil sport.

47 percent of high school pigskin players suffered a concussion each season, according to statistics gathered by the National Center for Injury Prevention. Thirty-five percent of players say they had more than one concussion in the same season. Multiple concussions increase the risk of long-term damage to the brain, doctors say.

Cheerleading, however, is pretty bad. It’s essentially gymnastics done with fewer safeguards by less professional people. My sister did off and on from elementary school through college, and has two blown knees, horrible problems with her wrists, and had at least one significant injury per year. I, on the other hand, stayed in my room with a book and have two intact ACLs.

alec August 18, 2008 at 5:06 pm

I thought the subtitle of this blog was “Small steps toward a much better world”, not “Irrelevant Facts While I Do An Imitative Freakonomics Jig”. (I would also accept “Small steps towards overanalyzing small things” or “Relevant economics is dead and I intend to prove it”)

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