Cheerleading 2.0

February 22, 2011  |  Field Notes, For the Love of Competition


I love my Mac. Oh, man do I love it – I truly couldn’t imagine life without it. How would I write this piece and even publish it to this blog without my beloved Mac?

And I love my iPod.
And I love my iPhone.
And I love my iPad.

And though they are all separate entities, without my Mac, none of the others would be possible.

And that’s how I see cheerleading today.

Cheerleading, like technology, is evolving. There will ALWAYS be a necessity for traditional cheerleaders, but the last decade, and more specifically, the last several years has seen cheerleading morph into a more competitive phenomenon.

Not unlike a personal computer, traditional cheerleading is now a collective part of the American psyche. The first personal computer was created in 1981 and Cheerleading as we know it today was introduced in 1898 by Johnny Campbell, an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, who stood before the crowd at a football game and led them in a yell.

It’s safe to say that great refinements have been made to both in the years since their respective conception.

Traditional cheerleading is the genesis for today’s new genres of cheer-based performance and sport. They are all different but spring from the same well. Traditional cheerleading gave life to competitive cheer and that competitive drive has created the offspring of all star cheerleading and now STUNT.

If we make a parallel between traditional cheerleading and the personal computer, the symbolism of their evolution mirrors each other. The invention of the iPod symbolizes competitive cheer where music begins to dominate the routines and provide the framework on which each performance is built.

From here the next step is the rise of the iPhone and all star cheerleading. Both would not be possible without their predecessors but each can operate almost exclusively of their founder. All star cheerleading features athletes performing difficult jump, stunt, pyramid and tumbling sequences set to music in a dynamic and exhilarating 2:30 routine format. The iPhone has quickly become the most popular phone to own just as all star cheerleading is gaining exponentially in popularity.

And most recently on the scene is the introduction of the iPad and STUNT. Cheerleading is budding before our eyes into something else—into a College Sport—A “sport” grounded in cheerleading. Just as the iPad replaces the personal computer in many instances, STUNT gives its participants the opportunity to compete as athletes not cheerleaders.

Without my Mac (or another personal computer), there would be no iPod, iPhone or iPad and without traditional cheerleading there would be no competitive cheer, all star cheerleading or STUNT.

This weekend in Dallas, the largest stand-alone all star competition in the country will take place. The 2011 NCA All-Star National Championship will feature over 650 cheer teams competing for a National title.

I’ll be cheering for these athletes this weekend, while listening to my ipod, tweeting from my iPhone and then watching the routines afterwards on my iPad.

Gotta love evolving technology.

— Jenni Parrish



1 Comment


  1. Interesting piece.

    I do see the roots of what all was started and how everything came from that original guy on the sidelines. I would love to see a comparative piece based on how the different athletic elements we have pulled in and made our own and where they came from as well. Tumbling from gymnastics. Stunts, baskets, and to some extent pyramids from acro. Jumps might be the only original thing, but I see some of them in gymnastics as well. But the pieces that were pulled from these other sports came into cheer and was done in our own way and made our own.

    Though, I think you missed one important angle from your article. While without the Mac you wouldnt have an iPhone, the iPhone no longer needs the Mac to exist. It has gone and grown up and now can stand on its own without the Mac.

    Competitive cheer owes its roots and creation to sideline (just as it does the inspiration of its elements form certain ares) but it is its own separate thing now.

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