World’s Strangest

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Cheerleading and Some Famous Cheerleaders

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website.

Here’s your question for the day: In what activity were men once 100% in control, but now women are in almost totally in control?

Did you say, “cheerleading?” Well, you’d be correct if you did. One hundred years ago, cheerleading was an entirely male activity, but by the 1920s (1927 is usually given as the first year), the girls moved in. By the 1940s, girls (and the newly-invented pompon) had almost totally overtaken the males as the nation’s cheerleader.

Why did girls so quickly overtake the guys in people’s hearts? No one knows the exact reason. Quite possibly, it was the lack of any sports for girls at the time, and they just wanted to get involved.

Interestingly, as it usually does, the sex angle played a part. Male cheerleaders still dress almost exactly the same as they did 100 years ago, i.e. full pants, full shirts, and a sweater with the team emblem. The female cheerleaders’ outfits, over the years, became skimpier and skimpier. The well-known cheerleader short shorts or short skirts became the custom. This of course, please the guys in the crowd immensely.

Also, by the 1940s, tumbling and gymnastics had become a popular part of cheerleading. The guys would stand and catch the girls, hold them aloft, or throw them up in the air. Obviously, the reverse was not possible, so the ladies became the stars of the act. In any cheering squad with both sexes, the girls inevitably are the center of attention.

Famous Girl Cheerleaders? The list goes on and on and includes Meryl Streep, Ann-Margret, Sally Field, Alicia Silverstone, Halle Berry, Katie Couric, Vanna White, Raquel Welch, Sandra Bullock, and Cybill Shepherd.

Madonna was a cheerleader (and a straight A student, too!). Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader-Ginsberg (!!!) was once a cheerleader.

Famous Guy Cheerleaders include Jack Lemmon, Jimmy Stewart, Michael Douglas, Steve Martin, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jerry Lewis.

But did you know four U.S. presidents were once cheerleaders? It’s true, can you guess who they were?

Former president George W. Bush was the head cheerleader for Phillips Academy Andover in Massachusetts.

Ronald Reagan, “The Gipper” himself, was a cheerleader at Eureka College.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was actually a cheerleader at West Point Academy.

And Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a sad twist of irony, was actually a cheerleader at Harvard in the early part of the 20th century, long before polio befell him.

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