Cheerleading all began in 1884 when Thomas Peebles took the Princeton spirit yell to a football game against the University of Minnesota. That cheer was altered by Johnny Campbell, an enterprising young Minnesota lad, and by 1898 it had cemented cheerleading into lame sport history. The following cheer was performed by the Minnesota males (back then, only males cheered) on the sideline:

Rah, Rah, Rah!
Sku-u-mah, Hoo-rah, Hoo-rah!
Varsity, Varsity!

Yes, very intellectual and highly effective, I'm sure.

The early 1900s were a time of change: the megaphone became popular in cheer routines, the 20s introduced female cheerleaders, and in the 30s the paper pom-pom was invented. It wasn't until 1965 that Fred Gastoff came up with the vinyl 'pom'. What a breakthrough!

World War One wreaked havoc on the cheerleading side of things. While the men were away, it was left up to the females to keep the spirit alive. They did it so well that upon the return of their servicemen, women stayed cheerleaders, being the dance half of the squads, while the men performed fantastic gymnastic tricks.

Cheerleading remained pretty low-key until the 70s, when it was thrust into the spotlight as an accompaniment to professional football and basketball, as says: "one cannot spend their lives sitting in the stands just watching the game". Touche.

The 80s bought widespread safety standards and guidelines, making cheerleading a 'real' sport. Today, cheerleading is recognised globally as an athletic and admirable pasttime (well, it should be).

Our obsession with all things perky and wholesome has been transferred into many movies. Note that since the Texas Cheerleading Tragedy there has been a spate of murder-related cheer movies.

The movies include (but are not limited to):

  • Bring It On (2000)
  • Head Cheerleader Dead Cheerleader (2000)
  • American Beauty (1999)
  • But I'm A Cheerleader (1999)
  • Cheerleader Ninjas (1998)
  • A Friend to Die For (aka Death of a Cheerleader) (1994)
  • The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993)
  • Willing to Kill: The Texas Cheerleader Story (1992)
  • Cheerleader Camp I (aka Bloody Pompoms) and II (1987 and 1990)
  • Cheerleaders Wild Weekend (1979)

Some famous (and not-so-famous) ex-cheerleaders:

Info from