A Short History of Cheerleading
Believe it or not, the first cheerleader was male and women didn't join the male-only sport until 25 years after it began!
In 1898 six men from the University of Minnesota led chants and cheers at American Football games to stir up enthusiasm from the crowds watching the game, with the idea of "yell-leaders" spreading through schools and universities across the USA. In 1923 the first women joined in the cheers and throughout the 1920s they added athletic skills including arm movements, acrobatics and dance to their routines. It wasn't until the 1940s that women came to dominate the sport as male students left to fight in World War II. Today, women comprise more than 90% of the world's cheerleaders.
By the 1960s cheerleading could be found in almost every school in the USA and in 1961 the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) was formed and the sport became one of the fastest growing youth activities in the United States. By 1982 cheerleading had spread to the UK and due to its popularity saw the rise of non-school based cheerleading called "All Star" in 1990.
Nowadays, cheerleading is no longer only about encouraging others, it is a sport itself comprising of stunting, jumps, dance and tumbling. Competitive cheer has grown immensely in the last few years, and the sport of cheerleading was granted Provisional Olympic Sport Status by the International Olympic Committee in 2016.
Watch this space!