Whether you’ve seen them at sports games, watched “Bring it On” countless times or binged the hit Netflix Documentary “Cheer,” it goes without saying that cheerleading has become a staple of American culture. However, many don’t know the intriguing history behind its origins, nor how it transitioned from just simple cheers and chants to the exciting, athletic performances that we know today.
Contrary to popular belief, the first appearance of cheerleading at a sports game, though not the same as we know it today, was by an all-male pep group at Princeton University. After a Princeton graduate brought some of the pep group’s cheers to the University of Minnesota, during a football game in 1898, a group was formed to create the first organized cheer. Women were not allowed to cheer until 1923, but they got their start at the University of Minnesota. Following women’s entry into cheerleading, the sport shifted from chants and catchy cheers to tumbling and acrobatics more similar to the cheerleading we see today.
In 1948, a former cheerleader at Southern Methodist University, Lawrence “Herkie” Herkimer, brought cheerleading to the modern age with the foundation of the National Cheerleaders Association which trains a multitude of cheerleaders each year. He also founded the first ready-made uniform company called Cheerleader Supply Company. Herkimer’s work had officiated him with the title “Father of Modern Cheerleading.”
The 1960s saw professional football teams incorporate cheerleading into their games, with the first organized cheer squad being formed by the Baltimore Colts. However, it was the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders that launched organized cheer into popularity. Their extravagant routines and flashy costumes caused audience members to flock to the stands and see them perform. Today, cheerleaders can be seen at practically any sporting event and are always a welcome addition to liven up the crowd. No matter what team you’re rooting for this year, anyone can agree that no football game is complete without the energizing and fun performances of the cheerleaders. Happy Super Bowl weekend from all of us at The Mirror!
But no cheerleading article would be complete without a feature of the top 10 best uniforms of the National Football League squads. While every cheerleading squad has its own unique factor, these are just some of the more popular and iconic uniforms that many love.
Top 10 Best Cheerleader Uniforms (in no particular order)