It took the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to weigh in on this one. Brittany Noffke is a ninth-grader at Holmen High School where she's a cheerleader. Kevin Brakke is also on the squad, and he was Brittany's spotter during practice while she was working on a stunt. Unfortunately, Brittany fell and severely injured her head, which Kevin apparently failed to prevent. The school did not have mats down during the practice and Brittany landed on a tile floor.
She sued the school and Kevin for her injuries.
The Court was called on to determine whether cheerleading is a contact sport. The court said that because there were no "opponents" directly involved with contact in the sport of cheerleading, it wasn't considered a contact sport. Now I'm not admitted to practice law in Wisconsin, so I most assuredly don't understand the law there, but when I've seen cheerleaders - especially male and female cheerleaders working together - it looks like a contact sport to me.
Maybe not as rough as football, but there's definitely contact going on there. After all, the guys are usually holding up the girls, aren't they?
The issue of whether it's a contact sport matters because there's a statute in Wisconsin that prevents participants in contact sports for suing one another for injuries resulting, of course, from the contact.
So, when the Court ruled that cheerleading isn't a contact sport, they were allowing Brittany's case to proceed against Kevin. They didn't, however, allow Brittany to sue the school. It's apparently immune from liability under another Wisconsin statute.
Don't ask me. I practice law in California, where practically everything's a contact sport.