The Sport of Cheerleading and Its Evolution

Before cheerleaders became an integral part of professional sports as a way to help fans cheer on their teams, it started at the college level. For decades, it has developed not only as a competitive sport in itself, but has served as a messenger to bring attention to charity goals and offer support in a variety of ways.

Cheerleaders are from the University of Minnesota. The first cheerleader was a University of Minnesota student named Johnny Campbell. During the soccer match he moved the crowd cheering, “Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-u-mah, Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-so-Tah!” The date is November 2, 1898. The university then gathered an army of six male students who continued to use Campbell’s original cheerfulness. Although the cheerleaders were originally men who were all men, in 1923 women were included and eventually became the majority of participants. Cheerleading immediately starts including routines such as falls, gymnastics, and the use of megaphones during soccer matches.

In 1948, a former cheerleader at the Southern Methodist University named Lawrence Herkimer formed the National Cheerleaders Association. It was made to hold cheerleading clinics, and in the 1960s, campus cheerleaders held workshops throughout the country teaching the fundamentals of cheering for teenage girls in high school. In 1965, Fred Gastoff, created vinyl pom-pounds introduced in a competition organized by the International Cheerleading Foundation. Currently known as the World Cheerleading Association. Organized cheerleading competitions developed everywhere until 1978 when CBS broadcast the first Collegiate Cheerleading Championship, which brought more attention to sports. Although cheerleaders rarely received much attention during the 1960s, and cheerleaders were no reason to watch football, what began to emerge was a team of professionally organized cheerleaders.

Before they became the famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, the Dallas Cowboys had a support force consisting of male and female high school students named CowBelles & Beaux. During the 1970 football season, Cowboys manager, Tex Schramm, decided to completely overhaul cheerleaders, making them troops who were all women over the age of 18, redesigning uniforms, creating a routine of cheering new dance styles, and forming an appearance that sexier overall in hopes of increasing attendance. The women not only have to be attractive and have athletic abilities when they audition, they also have to have raw talent as players. Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders made their first appearance on the sidelines during the 1972-1973 NFL season. Since then, they have appeared on many television shows, toured throughout the US and abroad, and have made regular appearances on USO tours to support our troops.

Modern cheerleaders have changed dramatically from their original functions to encourage attendees to show their support to the team. It has become a sport in itself, competing outside sporting events too. Cheerleaders are found in most American secondary schools, high schools, and colleges with organized teams consisting of students. Cheerleading scholarships are even offered by universities that compete in cheerleading competitions.

Cheerleading forces began to appear in the 1980s that had no connection with schools or sports leagues. Their main goal is just competition. Divisions and teams are created and sponsored by many different organizations and companies. Competition is judged based on the difficulties and implementation of routines that include leaps, stunts, falls, creativity, performance play, synchronization, and overall routine performance. This all-star team competition is broadcast to a global audience that has caused thousands of cheerleading participants from countries around the world.

Professional cheerleaders have brought cheerleaders outside the cheering scope of the game. This has broadened their horizons to do charity and philanthropic work, television shows, advertising, modeling, and motivational speaking. Cheerleaders have come a long way.