Cheerleading is one of the most overlooked sports in America. Not only does cheerleading require just as much hard work as any other sport, cheerleaders have to do their best to boost the morale of the team they’re cheering for.
“Cheerleading began in the 1860s in Great Britain and moved to the United States in the 1880s,” according to an article on cheerleading history on epicsports.com, a website for a range of sporting information and goods for sports such as football, soccer and even MMA. “Surprisingly enough, men started joining the sport.
“Princeton University, in 1884, got the idea that crowd chanting at football games would boost school spirit,” the article stated. Ten years later, Thomas Peebles, a graduate from Princeton, introduced the idea to the University of Minnesota.
From there, cheerleading took off, becoming an official sport in 1972.
So, does cheering boost team morale and impact players’ performances? One example of crowd participation in Korea says it does.
Julian Sonny, a sports writer for the Elite Daily, wrote, “The future is here. Proof of this can be found at Korean Major League baseball team Hanwha Eagle’s stadium, where, because of their historically bad team record, they’ve implemented cheering robots to keep team morale high.”
Sonny added that fans who are watching the game live elsewhere control the robots through their phones or computers. Fans comment, and the “fanbots” respond by signaling their cheer to the stadium. A video accompanies Sonny’s article, revealing that about thirty of these cheering robots have their own seating section in the crowd.
“Not only does it help with the stadium’s morale,” Sonny wrote, “but it encourages more user interaction and builds up the social media community.”
John Brown’s own cheerleaders can attest to the fact that cheerleading aids team spirit.
“I definitely think cheerleaders affect the morale of the teams,” said junior cheerleader Lindsay Dodson. “I think that the relationship between the cheerleaders and the athletes determines to what extent the morale is boosted — the closer the relationship, the greater the morale.”
Not only does cheerleading affect the team for which she is cheering, but Dodson said that she never has to pretend to be happy when she’s cheering.
“Cheerleading makes me happy, and after a game is over, I am normally in a much better mood than I was when I started,” she said.
It doesn’t stop there. Dodson also said that cheering influences the audience.
“I can tell a short-term difference in the mood of the crowd when I’m cheering,” Dodson said. “When cheerleaders are in their faces yelling at them, the mood changes, but it can change back fairly quickly.”
“When the team starts to lose, if the cheerleaders lose their spirit, I think it sends a very strong signal to the fans and the players,” Dodson added. “I feel as though my most important job as a cheerleader is to always keep on cheering my hardest no matter what the score.”
Junior basketball player Tristan Carrasquillo agreed.
“Absolutely, we need the cheerleaders to get that spark of excitement going in us,” Carrasquillo said. “When a bad call was made against me, or a foul, but they still were positive for me and called me by name — something small like that is really uplifting and makes you feel like you really are being appreciated on the court.”