Cheerleading is a physical activity, sometimes a competitive sport, based on organized routines, usually ranging from one to three minutes, which contain the components of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers and stunting to direct spectators of events to cheer on sports teams at games or to participate in competitions. The athlete involved is called a cheerleader. Cheerleading originated in the
, and remains a predominantly American activity, with an estimated 1.5
million participants in all-star cheerleading. The growing presentation of
cheerleading as a sport to a global audience was led by the 1997 start of
broadcasts of cheerleading competition by ESPN International and the worldwide
release of the 2000 film Bring It On. Due in part to this recent exposure,
there are now an estimated 100,000 participants scattered around the rest of
the world in countries including Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland,
France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. United States
Organized cheerleading started as an all-male activity. As early as 1877,
a "Princeton Cheer", documented in the Princeton University February 22, 1877, March
12, 1880, and November 4, 1881, issues of the Daily Princetonian. This cheer was yelled from the
stands by students at games, as well as by the baseball and football athletes
themselves. The cheer, "Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Tiger! S-s-s-t! Boom!
A-h-h-h!" remains in use with slight modifications today and is now referred
to as the "Locomotive".
It was not until 1898 that
student Johnny Campbell directed a crowd in cheering "Rah, Rah, Rah!
Ski-u-mah, Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-So-Tah!",
making University of Minnesota the very first cheerleader and Campbell November 2, 1898
the official birth date of organized cheerleading. Soon after, the
organized a "yell leader" squad of six male students, who still use University of Minnesota 's original
cheer. In 1903 the first cheerleading fraternity, Gamma Sigma, was founded. Campbell
Women joined cheerleading prior to 1907 and began to dominate the sport during World War II, when few men were involved in organized sports. At that time, there were no collegiate sports for women but women were allowed to participate in cheering squads. Gymnastics, tumbling and megaphones were incorporated into popular cheers, and are still used.