Cheerleading has made a remarkable transformation throughout the past 116 years. It has evolved from males leading chants from the side lines into a highly athletic and competitive sport. Everyone can relate the term "get fired up" to a cheerleading chant as they try to rally the crowd in support of the school team. But try telling a competitive cheerleader that cheerleading is not a sport and you'll see a totally different version of "get fired up." By looking at the history, evolution, current legislation and the different classifications surrounding Cheerleading, some definite conclusions can be drawn about the current status of this activity and sport. One unarguable fact is best stated by Stephanie Britt, the owner of Cheer Savannah, who says "Sports have enormous potential to benefit children. In addition to fitness and fun, sports also give children opportunities to learn the value of teamwork, discipline, and sportsmanship." (Smith 106). Although high school and colligate cheerleading are not considered sports by todays definition, competitive cheerleading is a sport, as it does meet all the requirements of a sport activity.
As with many other sports, Cheerleading also began as a male dominated activity before the turn of the century. The very first cheerleaders were actually men, who began chanting encouragement to their Princeton college football team from the sideline. It was a game between Princeton and Rutgers, and the first "cheers" called were "Rah rah rah! Tiger tiger tiger! Sis sis sis! Boom boom boom! Ahhhhhh!" The enthusiastic students were soon referred to as "yell leaders", whose job was to make-up chants and get the crowds excited (Torgovnick 17). Then in 1898, at the University of Minnesota, Johnny Campbell, a yell-leader, darted in front of his fellow students to lead them in a cheer. "For the next forty years, male cheerleaders used megaphones, noise-makers, jumps, flips, and chants to get the crowd to its feet.