Cheerleading is more than a bunch of girls standing on the side of the field trying to get the crowd going. It is a highly athletic competitive sport that combines gymnastics and dance with stylish cheerleading costumes. There are a million and a half all-star cheerleaders and the sport has worldwide participation and a global audience. Cheerleading actually started out as a male activity. The first organized cheer squad was at the University of Minnesota in 1898. Women started cheering in the early 20th century and by World War II they outnumbered the men. Now most high school and half the college level cheerleaders are women.

Cheerleader Costumes

The Bring It On series of movies has helped to keep cheerleading in the limelight. So has the popular show Glee, which has several cheerleaders as major characters. The Spartans, Arianna and Craig, were a pair of misfit cheerleaders in many skits on Saturday Night Live. Most of the cheerleader costumes are for women and girls. Girls can dress in sweet or "cheerless" costumes. Women can dress like classic cheerleaders, famous movie or TV characters, in the licensed uniforms of some major professional team squads. There's even a zombie cheerleader costumes. And, of course, the official Spartans men's and women's outfits.

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