|Updated: 12/18/2011 12:16 pm
||Published: 12/17/2011 7:10 pm
HOT SPRINGS, AR - The federal government says cheerleading tops the list as the most dangerous sport for high school students right behind football.
Saturday, hundreds of the state's top cheerleaders competed in Hot Springs, and they tell us they're familiar with the risks involved with their sport.
"I'm super nervous every single competition. It's hard. It really is, and it really makes me mad when people say it's not a sport. I'd like to see them try it," says Garrett Pennie.
Pennie, and his Greene County Tech teammates know cheerleading comes with a huge risk. The National Shooting Sports Foundation just released a study saying your child is safer hunting than he or she is cheerleading.
"When you're asking a child to jump over backwards, and do flips and stuff that, you know, they're not completely comfortable with, hear is going to play a part, you know, we do have some injuries, we keep those to a minimum. I don't push the kids past what they can do," says coach Jason McClain.
The cheerleaders work out constantly, even during the hot summer months in a gym with no air conditioning.
"We just keep them watered, man, just keep them watered and fed. A little heat never hurt anybody, including a cheerleader. We won't melt, so we practice through the heat," says McClain.
McClain also points out safety measures taken at every practice and performance like the 1 and 3/4 inch foam safety mats and spotters. He stays on or near the mat so he can help if one of his student-athletes gets hurt.