History of Cheerleading in America

History of Cheerleading America

This history of cheerleading in America got its official start in the late 19th century with "yell leader" Johnny Campbell at a University of Minnesota football game. From yelling on the sidelines to the more complicated stunts and routines you see today, cheerleading has changed the face of American sports from high school to professional leagues.

Pom Pons, Megaphones and Girls!

Cheerleading was an all male sport until the 1920s. In fact, female cheerleaders were only allowed on the scene because there weren't other collegiate sports in which females could participate. So with long skirts and tissue paper pom pons, leading yells became a predominantly female sport.

The Innovations of the '50s

Lawrence Herkimer is credited in many ways with reinventing cheerleading and ushering in a modern era. In 1948 he formed the National Cheerleading Association to hold cheerleading clinics. He also founded the Cheerleading and Danz team uniform supply company (the first of its type). He is best known for inventing many modern day maneuvers and jumps such as the "herkie".

Are You Ready for Some Football?

While high school cheerleaders were still sporting long skirts and yelling cheers on the sidelines, the NFL saw a great opportunity to start an entertainment conglomerate of football, cheerleaders and family oriented entertainment. There is a little debate about who actually had the first cheerleaders, but there is no doubt that it was the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders who changed the history of cheerleading in America.

Competitive Cheerleading

It wasn't until the '80s that cheerleading began to truly become the competitive sport that it is today. It was 1983 when ESPN broadcasted the National High School cheerleading competition nationally. This national spotlight gave way to more stunting, flying and tumbling than cheerleading had ever seen before.

Bring It On!

The '90s saw an evolution of cheerleading and an explosion in its popularity. Immortalized in the popular movies like Bring It On, the high school cheerleader solidified its place as an all-American icon. No longer reserved for the high school cheerleader, squads began forming in rec clubs as well as middle schools and elementary schools.

Most Dangerous Sport

It stands to reason that as the stunts and tumbling became more daring, cheerleaders would suffer more injuries. In Augst of 2008, a research study on catastrophic injuries reported that of all female athletes, cheerleaders are injured the most. Cheerleaders visit the emergency room most often, suffer the most catastrophic injuries and outnumber football players in injuries by three to one.

Cheerleading Is a Sport

The debate rages on today as to weather or not cheerleading should be a sport. Defining cheerleading as a sport will help regulate squads and protect them from doing stunts or tumbling that is too dangerous. Regardless, you will never convince a real cheerleader, that she (or he) is not a true athlete!

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History of Cheerleading in America