Cheerleading is an athletic discipline that uses choreographed dance and gymnastics routines to make spectators cheer during sports games. Cheerleading is also a sport on its own, with 1.5 million cheerleaders competing at competitions worldwide.
History of Cheerleading
The early instances of cheerleading took place in the United States during the late 1880s, when crowds chanted at sports events to bring up the morale of the teams playing. The first ever organized cheer was recorded at Princeton University. Inspired by this, a Princeton graduate named Thomas Peebles brought up the idea of organized cheering during football season at the University of Minnesota.
Cheerleading is commonly thought to be a “girly” sport, but did you know that the first cheerleader was actually a guy? Johnny Campbell was a student at the University of Minnesota in 1898 who led the first organized crowd cheering during a football game. Soon after that, the university organized a squad of six male students and Gamma Sigma, the first cheerleading fraternity, was founded. Cheerleading used to be an all-male activity due to limited female participation in sports. Girls began to participate in cheerleading during 1923 when gymnastics and megaphones became incorporated in cheers.
National Cheerleaders Association
The National Cheerleaders Association was founded in 1948 by Lawrence Herkimer as a means to train potential cheerleaders. Herkimer gave significant contributions to the sport, such as the founding of a uniform supplier and the creation of the “Spirit Stick”. In the 1960s, it was common for college cheerleaders to host workshops across the United States and teach the basics to eager high school girls.
Modern cheerleading developed during the 1980s as intricate stunts like tumbling passes and pyramids were included in routines. Cheerleading today is usually associated with basketball and American football. There are many references to the sport in popular culture, especially in television shows and high school movies like Bring it On. Cheerleaders have also served as icons symbolizing youthfulness and popularity and has gone a long way from its male-dominated beginnings at the turn of the century.
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