No doubt cheerleading is hailed as a competitive sport today, and finds itself in the same ranks as other competitive sport games, but it was not always the case. Cheerleading has evolved as a sport, and in this following SportsAspire post, we will tell you exactly how, along with highlighting certain facts about the same.
Did You Know?
Several US presidents have been cheerleaders, such as George W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower, and Franklin Roosevelt.
Cheerleading is an important part of many sporting events today, so much so that it is considered as much a sporting event as any other sport. Cheerleaders cheering a team on is known to boost the morale and spirit of a team.
While cheerleading started out as a means to encourage teams, it has, today, become a lot more than a simple routine, with chants and cheers put in for good measure. For example, did you know that cheerleaders are encouraged to be expert gymnasts because they carry through difficult routines without any safety gear?
Several such interesting facts and information about cheerleading will follow through in the following sections of this SportsAspire article.
Cheerleading Facts and Interesting Information
► Cheerleading as a sport is more than a hundred years old. The activity that started out as a way to cheer teams, has now become one of the most versatile sporting events, featuring activities that range from cheering, physical activities for sports team motivation, competitions based upon organized routines, and entertainment.
► Cheerleading originated in the United States and continues to be predominantly popular. There are estimated to be over 1.5 million participants in the all-star cheerleading today.
► Organized cheering first started at the Princeton University, as early as 1877, where it is known to have a ‘Princeton Cheer’. The cheer went like this―“Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Tiger! S-s-s-t! Boom! A-h-h-h!”. The cheer remains in practice till date with slight changes and modifications. Today, the cheer is referred to as the ‘Locomotive’.
► In 1884, Thomas Peebles, a Princeton graduate, moved to Minnesota and planted the idea of organized cheering for teams as a sign of their support to the University of Minnesota. But it wasn’t until 1898 that Minnesota University student Johnny Campbell actually directed a crowd in cheering.
► The chant Johnny Campbell used went something like this―“Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-u-mah, Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-So-Tah!” With this, Campbell became the first cheerleader in history, and the date November 2, 1898 became the official date of organized cheerleading.
► Cheerleading started out as an all-male activity. Princeton University football officials had named 3 male ‘cheer leaders’ on October 26, 1897 who were to cheer for the home football teams and the guest football teams as well. The term ‘cheer leader’ has been used since 1897. The University of Minnesota also organized a ‘yell leader’ group, which consisted of 6 male students. A few years later, in 1903, the first cheerleading fraternity was founded, and it was called the Gamma Sigma.
► It wasn’t until 1923 that women joined cheerleading, and began dominating it during World War II when very few men were involved in organized sports and many were away at war. It was around this time that gymnastics, megaphones, and tumbling were incorporated into cheerleading along with the popular cheers. These continue to be used even today.
► In 1948, Lawrence Herkimer, more popularly known as ‘Herkie’, a former cheerleader at the Southern Methodist University, formed the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA). This was done in order to hold clinics for cheerleading; the first clinic was held in Huntsville, Texas, and 52 girls attended the same.
► Herkimer was responsible for introducing several firsts to cheerleading―he invented the very famous Herkie move in cheerleading (where one leg is stretched right out to the front and the other is bent towards the back, in a toe touch position), the ‘spirit stick’, the pom-poms (though when they first came out, they were called the pom-pons), and the first cheerleading uniform supply company.
► Statistics show that among all the modern cheerleading participants, 97% are female. At the collegiate level where cheerleading is co-ed, 50% participants are male. 12% of all cheerleaders fall between the ages of 5 – 13. 12% are dancers, and 62% of all cheerleaders are involved in a second sport. Moreover, 83% of all cheerleaders have a ‘B’ grade point average or higher.
► 80% of schools in the United States have cheerleading squads, and the most popular sport for cheerleading is football.
► Texas is known to be the cheerleading capital of the United states.
► The Dallas Cowboys were the first National Football League (NFL) team to have a recognized cheering squad in the 72-73 season. The squad was called the ‘Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders’, who gained the spotlight right from the word go with their sophisticated moves and revealing outfits. In fact, they were responsible for changing the image of cheerleaders forever, and had many teams emulating them.
► ESPN first broadcast the National High School Cheerleading Competition in 1983.
► There are several organizations, like the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Advisors (AACCA) and the National Council for Spirit Safety and Education (NCSSE), which are responsible for applying universal safety standards to decrease the number of injuries and prevent dangerous stunts from being included in the routines, as well as providing safety training.
► In the United States, of the 2.9 million female high school athletes, only 3% are cheerleaders; however, nearly 65% of all catastrophic injuries are caused by cheerleading. At the college level, 67% of female athlete injuries are known to be caused by mishaps experienced during cheerleading.
► The most common injuries are reported as being brought on due to performing pyramids; these include broken arms, elbow injuries, broken noses, knee injuries, sprained wrists and ankles, back and head injuries, and broken collarbones. There are certain serious injuries that can be caused as well, like broken necks and vertebrae, whiplash, and even deaths.
► The risks of this sport were highlighted when a cheerleader for the Southern Illinois University, Kristi Yamaoka, fractured her vertebra and suffered from a concussion and a bruised lung after falling from a pyramid and hitting her head on the ground in 2006.
As the years go by, cheerleading gets to be more and more popular. It is now a part of several sporting events the world over. With the kind of sophisticated moves that are being included, and the heavy-duty cheers that are gaining momentum, one can see why this is not a sport that will stop being popular anytime soon.