Oh, but only recently…very recently. You probably hadn’t even thought to organize your 2008 receipts when the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided that because cheerleading “is a contact sport…its participants cannot be sued for accidentally causing injuries.”
There are three assertions in this news item–click here to read the entire spread–that make me go “hmmm.” Cheerleading was not deemed a contact sport last year “because there’s no contact between opposing teams.” As of Tuesday, though, the sheer physical demands placed on cheerleaders (not to mention laws of physics) is high and mighty enough for a re-classification. Cheerleading is certainly no picnic in Piedmont Park and requires athletic ability and talent just like other sports (team and solo).
And yet, the very act of cheerleading occurs in technically four places: cheerleading practice, pep-rallies, games, and cheerleading competitions. If the Wisconsonian definition of “contact sport” suggests that the athletes must literally touch the opponent’s team members, there is no way that cheerleading would qualify.
Sounds like the definition for “contact sport” must be altered such that accidental injuries involving any of the athletes–friend or foe–would not be grounds for legal action. But what factors should be considered but would become unwieldy?
1. Intent (maybe it appeared accidental but the whole school knew that those two were out for blood, and just look at their faces).
2. Neglect (someone not paying attention?).
3. Area of contact (head-to-head, unacceptable; foot-to-thigh, hand-to-back, acceptable).
4. Duration (under five seconds, unavoidable; more than seven seconds, totally avoidable).
Click here for more information about the case.