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History Of Cheerleading

What is the history of Cheerleading? What are its origins? Where did Cheerleading come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Cheerleading.

Cheerleading History

Table of Contents


What are the basic rules of Cheerleading?

There are many rules that govern the sport of cheerleading in order to keep the playing field leveled and give everyone a fair chance to compete. To begin with, each team must be supervised by a well qualified coach and must have practices in appropriate locations. Also, teams should not be pushed to perform new techniques unless they have practiced it and it is deemed safe. This is set in order to protect the safety of the athletes because performing brand new moves could be dangerous if they have not been practiced and perfected beforehand. It is vital that each cheerleader be trained in spotting because this is how everyone stays safe and protects athletes from injury. There should not be any jewelry worn during practices or competition unless it is for religious purposes. Jewelry could get caught on something and injure the athletes; this rule protects the athletes and ensures that they are always in safe conditions. Braces or casts must be covered by participants and any athletes wearing these supports are barred from performing any stunts during competition. Lastly, athletic shoes must be worn and hazardous objects may not be thrown during competition.


Which Country Started Cheerleading?

Cheerleading began in the mid 19th century in Great Britain but later moved to the United States not shortly after its creation. Cheerleading has become a staple of sporting events throughout the country being the most popular in collegiate athletics as well as throughout youth sports leagues. Even though cheerleading has become very popular throughout the female population and has been dominated by them, cheerleading actually started with male fans at a collegiate sporting event. After this first sporting event, many colleges liked the idea and adopted it for their athletic programs. The National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) was the first cheerleading association in the United States and was established in order to help people improve on their cheerleading skills and spread the love of the sport more throughout the country.


Who Invented Cheerleading?

The invention of the sport of cheerleading has been credited to many Yale University students that began cheering from the crowd during football games. The school liked when the students would do this and created a cheerleading squad in order to have the cheering at each of their games. Even though these students are credited with creating cheerleading the unofficial 'grandfather of cheerleading' is a man by the name of Lawrence "Herkie" Herkimer. He is recognized as the grandfather of cheerleading because he started the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) while at Southern Methodist University. There have been annual cheerleading camps held in 1948 totalling twenty thousand attendees since its inaugural camp. In 1953 Herkimer created the Cheerleading Supply Company and patented the pompom9 and continued to take cheerleading to much greater heights.


When was Cheerleading Established?

Cheerleading was established in the 1860s in Great Britain but became a very popularized sport when it reached the United States in the 1880s when the Yale students decided to start heavily cheering for their football team during the season. In 1898, a Princeton University graduate, Thomas Peebles, brought cheerleading to the University of Minnesota with the idea of chanting to a crowd of spectators. He continued to lead organized cheers during their poor football season and is considered the first cheerleader. Johnny Campbell later became known as the first leader of the cheer team with the Golden Goffers.It was not until many years later that women became involved with the sport they are believed to run today. The sport was mostly comprised of a select few male students that would simply start cheers for the spectators at games. There were not as many movements and routines that there are today but rather just chants and cheers that were created by these 'cheerleaders'.


Cheerleading became very popular near the 1960s. The sport was very up and coming in the beginning of the 20th century but really took off once the 1960s were reached. By the 1960s almost every high school and college had a cheerleading squad. Shortly after this, cheerleading broke into the National Football League with the Cowboys debuting the first professional cheerleading squad during the 1972-73 season. After the Cowboys reached their first Super Bowl with the cheerleaders it changed the face of cheerleading forever.


Cheerleading has developed as one of the most popular sports in the United States. There are national competitions for both high school and college athletes. There have also been many cheerleaders that have competed in other sports such as gymnastics in the Olympics. Cheerleading has spread throughout the rest of the world and has become popular elsewhere. The other countries that cheerleading is popular are:

  • Central America
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • Other countries throughout Asia and Europe

Cheerleading History Key Facts and Timeline

  • Cheerleading dates back all the way to the 1860s in Great Britain
  • The sport entered the United States in the 1880s
  • In 1898, Johnny Campbell became the first cheerleader at the University of Minnesota when he led an organized cheer at a Minnesota vs Princeton football game
  • In 1903 students at the University of Minnesota created the first cheer fraternity called Gamma Sigma
  • Women became involved with the sport in the 1920s
  • By the 1940s, women were usually the ones leading the cheers and the cheer teams
  • By the 1960s cheerleading was a part of almost every high school and college
  • In 1972 competitive cheerleading took off with the passing of the Title IX rule
  • In 1978 the first competitive cheerleading competition was aired on TV by CBS
  • In order to emphasize safety, in 2003 a national council was formed to offer safety workshops to athletes that wanted them



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