January 2021


photo by actionmoments.com

DEDICATION, ATHLETICISM, AND POISE Three words that come to mind when I think about cheerleading. The question is often asked, “Is cheerleading a sport?” If you have ever asked a cheerleader, you have no doubt gotten an earful. As a former cheerleader, former cheer coach and a current cheer mom, I have plenty to say and was really excited when Texarkana Monthly asked me to be a guest writer. Did you know that cheerleading actually dates back to the late 1800s, and it was originally an all-male sport? According to an article by ​ Pacific Standard Magazine , “The Manly Origins of Cheerleading” by Lisa Wade, early cheer was “characterized by gymnastics, stunts, and crowd leadership, cheerleading was considered equivalent in prestige to an American flagship of masculinity football.” The article outlines how cheer transitioned from a male to female- dominated sport. After reading this article, I did a little more digging

and learned a lot about cheer that even I didn’t know. In 1884, Princeton University came up with a cheer for the crowd to boost spirit. At a game against the University of Minnesota on November 2, 1898, student Johnny Campbell noted the concept and organized Minnesota fans in chanting for their team. As a result, he is often given credit as the first official “cheerleader” (​ EpicSports.com ) and this date is given as the official birth date of organized cheerleading. In the late 1920s, the University of Minnesota allowed women to participate in cheer even though most schools still did not. However, it wasn’t until World War II, as men headed off to war, that we see women really stepping onto the sidelines. As women moved in, parts of society deemed cheerleading “too masculine” and an evolution began. Because pants were not part of the acceptable everyday clothing of women of the teens and twenties, I feel quite certain the ankle-length skirts they sported played a role in this


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