Cheerleaders: where is the ban on tackling in football? - FOX 13 News

Cheerleaders: where is the ban on tackling in football?

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Cheerleading rules the Trapeni house. Sisters Haley, Rachel and Brooke cheer for Stars Athletics. They have a trampoline in their formal dining room for extra practice.

But they spend hours at the gym, every week. The girls all saw the dramatic fall when Orlando Magic cheerleader Jamie Wood fell from a stunt, crashing to the hard court.

They never thought the accident would lead to major changes at a Florida university.

"I think it was just a freak accident," Haley said. "It doesn't happen all the time. It was just one accident that is now causing changes for everyone."

UF cheerleaders were told on Friday that they are now grounded, meaning they can no longer do stunts or tumbling. For Saturday's last regular season home game, the squad members were left to just cheer and dance.

The cheerleaders are not allowed to talk to the media about the changes, but we know they are not happy. They took to Facebook, Twitter and started a website: www.savefloridacheerleading.com.

Haley, Rachel and Brooke's mom Wendy thinks it was a rash decision on the university's part. She suspects people who don't know about cheerleading and what it takes made the decision.

"As far as the risks and injuries, we know going into the all-star cheerleading, the potential for injury is there. But I feel the coaches we're around take the steps they need to make sure they're not going to throw someone who doesn't know what they're doing out there," Wendy said.

UF cheerleaders have a medical advisory board that approves their stunts, but it's unclear if those doctors were asked to weigh in on the new rules. Many are angry with the changes, saying there's never a push to ban "tackling" from football, even though football has the highest number of injuries and deaths of any sport.

In the last 10 years, 39 college or high school football players died as a result of the sport. In that same time, one cheerleader died.

The number of catastrophic injuries for football are much higher too: 358 for football, versus 62 for cheerleading.

Rachel Trapeni says it's all about being prepared.

"If your stunt group is not ready to catch you, then you can easily hit the floor, and it hurts," Rachel says.

UF cheerleaders are hoping the university reconsiders.

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