Cheerleading Facts
Cheerleading Facts

31 Spirited Cheerleading Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published March 30, 2019
  • The father of cheerleading is usually considered to be Joseph Campbell. He organized the first true university "yell team" for the University Minnesota's football team for a November 2, 1898 football game.
  • When cheerleading began in 1898, it was an all-male activity. Women began to join in the 1920s, and now over 90% of America's cheerleaders are female.[1]
  • In 1948, Lawrence "Herkie" Herkimer, a cheerleader from Southern Methodist University, invented the pom-pom and the popular "Herkie" jump.[1]
  • The word "pom-pom" is derived from the French word pompe ("tuft of ribbons"). Initially they were made out of crepe paper.[1]
  • Cheerleading Jiggle Test
    Would agree to get jiggle tested?
  • Five former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders sued the team for subjecting cheerleaders to a "jiggle test" and for low pay.[7]
  • Although they are not the first cheerleading squad, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders popularized cheerleading with their skimpy outfits and sophisticated dance routines.[1]
  • Several United States presidents have been cheerleaders, including George W. Bush, Dwight Eisenhower, and Franklin Roosevelt.[5]
  • Several famous actors have been cheerleaders, including Michael Douglas, Kirk Douglas, Steve Martin, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jimmy Stewart. Famous actresses who have been cheerleaders include Kirstie Alley, Halle Berry, Miley Cyrus, Cameron Diaz, Madonna, and Katie Couric.[5]
  • ESPN broadcast the first National High School Cheerleading Competition in 1983.[1]
  • Among all high school and college sports, football is the most dangerous. Cheerleading is number two.[2]
  • Lauren Cheng, a 20-year-old cheerleader, died after being accidentally kicked in the chest while performing a "basket catch" routine. After impact, the lining of her lungs began to swell, making it impossible for her to breathe.[2]
  • Cheerleading is the most dangerous sport for female college athletes. The second most dangerous is gymnastics, and the third is track.[8]
  • Wimps lift Weights, Cheerleaders lift People.

    - Author Stephanie, PA, USA

  • Among female college athletes, cheerleading accounts for 66.7% of all catastrophic injuries.[8]
  • In 2005, 14-year-old Ashley Burns died when her spleen burst after landing wrong after a particularly high throw.[4]
  • One in six cheerleading injuries are to the head and neck.[2]
  • Cheerleader mom Wanda Web Holloway attempted to hire her ex-brother-in-law to kill the mother of her daughter's junior high school cheerleading rival. She was arrested after he turned her over to the police.[6][10]
  • Out of the 2.9 million female high school athletes, only 3% are cheerleaders. However, nearly 65% of all catastrophic injuries are caused by cheerleading.[15]
  • Cheerleading Injury Fact
    Common catastrophic cheerleading injuries include closed-head injuries, skull fractures, and cervical spine injuries.

  • Chinese tech companies sometimes hire women as "programming cheerleaders" to help motivate their socially awkward male employees. The cheerleading job includes buying programmers breakfast, chatting, and playing ping pong.[9]
  • Laura Jackson broke her C1 and C2 vertebrae while attempting a back tuck before a cheerleading tryout event. She cracked her head so catastrophically that a piece of her scalp ripped off, and she became paralyzed from the neck down.[2]
  • The cheerleader at the top of a pyramid is ten times more likely to get a concussion than a football player.[6]
  • North Korea has a squad of 229 cheerleaders who are hand-picked, unpaid, and heavily guarded 24 hours a day and must use the restroom in groups. There is also the fear of prison camp if they step out of line.[3]
  • Global Cheerleading Fact
    North Korea's cheerleaders face prison camps if they step out of line

  • The oldest NFL cheerleader was 48-year-old Molly Shattuck of the Baltimore Ravens. She was fired after she was arrested for raping a 15-year-old classmate of one of her children.[14]
  • There are over 4 million cheerleaders in the United States. Of these, 400,000 are high school cheerleaders.[1]
  • The average age of an NFL cheerleader is 25.[17]
  • At Livermore High School in California, a cheerleading squad called “Shooting Stars” consists of 14 special education students. They are wildly popular at the school and perform regularly.[16]
  • In August 2017, a group of 60 cheerleaders in New Zealand broke a record for the world's largest cheer pyramid.[12]
  • Cheerleader Pay Fact
    Cheerleaders are often paid less than minimum wage
  • A typical NFL player earns about $860,000 a year. An NFL cheerleader earns about $100 to $200 per game.[17]
  • After Jason Witten accidentally tackled Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Keller during a game, she tweeted humorously about the incident. The NFL later forced her to delete her account and prohibited her from granting interviews.[17]
  • Famous people who have been cheerleaders include Sandra Bullock, Kirsten Dunst, Megan Fox, Snooki, Blake Lively, Kelly Ripa, Trent Lott, Miley Cyrus, Katie Couric, Lindsay Lohan, Madonna, and Meryl Streep.[13]
  • On December 2018, over 2,102 people in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China broke the record for the world's largest cheerleading cheer. The youngest participant was 5 years old, and the oldest was 68.[11]
  • The NFL didn't have cheerleaders until the the 1960s. The Baltimore Colts were the first to create an offical squad.[1]
  • Cheerleading Timeline
    1884The first official cheer is performed at Princeton University
    1898Johnny Campbell becomes the first official cheerleader 
    1930Paper pom poms are invented
    1940Laurence R. Herkimer establishes the American Cheerleaders Association
    1940sWomen cheerleaders begin to take over the sport as WW II commences
    1949Lawrence Herkimer creates the first cheerleading camps
    1950Start of high school cheerleading
    1960sNFL teams introduce cheerleading squards
    1965Yale bars women from cheerleading because cheerleading is for undergraduates. The university won't admit its first female students until 1969
    1969After Walter M. Williams High School (North Carolina) fails to pick any black cheerleaders, violence erupts. The governor announces a state of emergency, and 400 National Guard troops arrive on scene. A black 15-year-old student is killed
    1960Over half of the 2,800 students in Texas' Crystal City public school system walk out after only one Mexican American cheerleader is selected. The city is 85% Mexican American
    1972Title IX is passed; the first professional cheerleading squads are established
    1976The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders draw national attention when they perform at the Super Bowl with their new uniforms.

    The first offical stunt, called a "Liberty," is performed 
    1980The Universial Cheerleaders Association holds the first National High School Cheerleading Championship at SeaWorld. 
    2000The popular film Bring It On premieres.

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