Monday, November 22, 2010

Cheerleading: Now and Then

My mother was a varsity cheerleader in high school and often tells me about how things were, when she cheered. Even though the basic idea of cheerleading, to lead and pump-up a crowd, has stayed the same; the way it's accomplished has changed.


Then: They were simple, easy to follow cheers. Cheerleaders were just yelling the cheers out; no motions or stunts were incorporated.
Now: Not every cheer is a "call back" cheer or one that the crowd can answer back to. Also, stunts, jumps, tumbling, and motions are incorporated into almost every cheer. Cheers are more of a way to impress the crowd than to get them involved.


Then: Like cheers, these were also simple. Also, they were rarely done. When they were, they were no higher than shoulder level and were stunts like thigh stands and shoulder sits; Simple stunts, which could be used to get the crowds attention.
Now: The extensive use of these now has made cheerleading more of a sport than a club or activity. Instead of the shoulder level stunts, cheerleaders are now throwing girls into the air; flyers are standing on one leg and twisting out of everything; and double level stunts are seen at college events. With these new advances in
difficulty, injuries have also become a big part of the sport.


Then: Cartwheels, round-offs, and we'll put splits in this category even though they aren't really tumbling, were the only form of gymnastics seen. Again, these skills were put into halftime routines to get the crowds attention.
Now: Cartwheels and round-offs are things you can do when you're in elementary school; and if you're serious about cheerleading you have more advanced tumbling skills by the time you're in high school. It's not uncommon for a varsity team to require a tumbling skill, like a back handspring or standing tuck, to make the team. This skill has definitely become more important in the world of cheerleading.

Cheerleading actually started out as an all male sport, but through the years has changed into a mostly female dominated activity. Also, even though it started in American, cheerleading is now a universal sport. Jumps have stayed the same throughout the years, while dancing and uniforms have changed with the times. Competitions are a big part of the cheerleading world today; there are even teams that do only this. Back in the day, competing was very rare. It seems cheerleading is moving away from its original purpose, leading and pumping-up the crowd at a sporting event, to a sport of its own, with its own set of fans.

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