by NYASIA JONES
Cheerleading is an organized sports activity involving short routines that combine dance, gymnastics, and stunt elements to cheer on teams, most commonly football and basketball. Performers of these one to three-minute routines are called “cheerleaders”. Cheerleading originated in Britain and spread to the United States where it remains most common, but has also become popular in other parts of the world, such as Europe, Central America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Asia.
In the 1920s women became involved in cheerleading. And that’s because there weren’t many intercollegiate sports available to them at the time. The lady yellers sported ankle-length skirts and varsity sweaters. Minnesota continued to lead the sport of cheer into widespread popularity. Female cheer squads began to include gymnastics, dance and other showy stunts into routines, and in the 1930s cheers were aided by the use of paper pom-poms (the first vinyl pom-poms weren’t manufactured until 1965). By the1940s women were mainly leading the cheers, and routines took on a voice their own
Cheerleading dates to the 1860s, in Great Britain, and entered the US in the 1880s.Although women currently dominate the field, cheerleading was begun by men.Though founded on the idea that cheering before judges in the stands would boost school spirit and to improve team performance, cheerleading has become an All-Star sport of its own. Cheer teams enter competitions every year, thriving for large prizes and trophies. Cheer teams can be found in middle and high schools, colleges, youth leagues, and athletic associations. There is professional and All-Star cheerleading. There are an estimated 3.5 million cheerleaders in the US alone, not including dance team members, gymnasts, and other affiliated participants which would raise that number to above 5 million. Cheerleaders outside the US total about 100,000.The sport of cheerleading has gone from one enthusiastic guy chanting to a crowd of hopeful spectators to a prestigious athletic activity showcasing the talents of both males and females alike.