2 Nov: The First Cheerleader

Johnny Campbell, a medical student from the University Of Minnesota, spurred on his alma mater’s struggling football team by leading spectators in a rousing cheer on 2nd November, 1898 – and, in so doing, became the world’s first recognised cheerleader. 

Even though the sport now features predominantly female participants these days, the first women cheerleaders weren’t recorded until 1923. Indeed, four men who would later become U.S. President cheered on their teams at College: Dwight D Eisenhower, Franklin D Roosevelt, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly reveal the ‘grandfather of cheerleading’, who patented pom-poms; explain how the Dallas Cowboys played a pivotal role in the perception of modern cheerleading; and consider the most comical cheerleading names in the canon… 

Further Reading:

• ‘Almanac: The 1st cheerleader’ (CBS News, 2014): https://www.cbsnews.com/news/almanac-the-1st-cheerleader/

• A Not-So-Brief and Extremely Sordid History of Cheerleading – Mother Jones (Mother Jones, 2014): https://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/12/cheerleader-history-timeline/

• ‘Top 10 Most Watched Cheerleading Routines EVER on YouTube’ (The Cheer Buzz, 2021): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgH-Esw6GpI 

‘Why am I hearing a rerun?’ Every Thursday is ‘Throwback Thursday’ on Today in History with the Retrospectors: running one repeat per week means we can keep up the quality of our independent podcast. Daily shows like this require a lot of work! But as ever we’ll have something new for you tomorrow, so follow us wherever you get your podcasts: podfollow.com/Retrospectors