Cheerleading Facts

Lori Soard
Holding cheerleader foot

There are a few cheerleading facts that seem to hold true universally for nearly every cheer squad out there. Although the cheers may vary quite a bit and the uniforms may be different, these facts are the same.

Facts About Cheer History

When it comes to the history of cheerleading, there are some facts that are beyond dispute:

  • In the late 1800s, crowds joined in chants at Princeton University.
  • Cheerleading was born at the University of Minnesota.
  • Lawrence Herkimer introduced the pom pom.
  • Herkimer's nickname was Herkie.
  • Herkie helped form the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA).
  • Herkimer also invented the spirit stick and the jump called a Herkie.
  • In the 1920s, females at the University of Minnesota began to form female cheer squads and incorporate tumbling into their routines.
  • In the 1960s, NFL teams began to form cheer squads.
  • In the 1980s, cheerleaders began to add more stunts to their routines and participate in competitive cheerleading squads.

General Cheerleading Facts

Although there are still some people who might argue that cheerleading is not a sport, today's cheerleader must be able to perform at least a back handspring. Many competitive squads require a back tuck. Gymnastics, dance and flexibility all play an important role in being a good cheerleader. Some other interesting cheerleading facts include:

  • Texas is often associated with cheerleading. There was a mother in Texas who tried to hire a hit man to kill a rival cheerleader, so her daughter could be on the squad.
  • In the United States, around 80 percent of all schools have a cheer squad.
  • There are about four million cheerleaders on the planet Earth.
  • Several US Presidents were cheerleaders, including Dwight Eisenhower, George W. Bush and Franklin Roosevelt.
  • More than 80 percent of cheerleaders have a grade point average of B or above.

Cheerleading Myths

There are several myths surrounding the sport of cheerleading:

  • Dropping the spirit stick will bring you bad luck. This idea got started at a cheer camp somewhere and was popularized with the movie Bring It On. It is just a stick and while it is fun to talk about passing the spirit stick, accidentally dropping it won't do anything to you except make you bend over to pick it up.
  • The size of your feet affects your cheerleading. In the past, some have said that the smaller your feet, the better you can cheer. There is no scientific basis to this theory. Cheerleaders wear all different sizes of shoes.
  • Cheerleaders have to be skinny. This simply isn't true. Since the base of a pyramid needs to have a solid muscle structure and the flyer needs to be light, cheerleaders come in all shapes and sizes. With that said, cheerleaders do need to be in good physical condition.
  • Cheerleaders always have to smile. While it is important to be "peppy" if you are trying to incite the crowd into excitement for your team, you do not have to be happy every hour of every day.
  • Cheerleaders are airheads. Most cheerleaders have a grade average of B or better.

Other myths claim you have to be tall or short, blonde and even that you have to be female. These are all simply myths. The most talented cheerleaders today have something truly unique to offer to their squad.

Cheerleading Facts