Johnny Campbell invents cheerleading

Cheerleading today has transcended its amateur, grassroots origins, becoming a viable sport and profession of its own. As cheerleading competitions and the Country Music Television network show “Making the Team,” about tryouts for the famous Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad, can testify, a life in the profession of cheerleading is no walk in the park. Cheerleading’s origins, on the other hand, would be completely unrecognizable to sports and cheerleading fans of today.

On this day, November 2, in 1898, in a football game featuring his University of Minnesota team, in a pique of fervor for his team, a fan named Johnny Campbell got up in front of the crowd to chant “Rah, Rah, Rah! Sku-u-mar, Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-So-Tah!”

Minnesota’s 17-6 win was credited in part to Campbell’s cheer, and so cheerleading took off. Two years later the megaphone was introduced to help cheerleaders to engage more of the crowd. Cheerleaders, many of them former players themselves, appeared in many other schools, and for a brief while there was even a cheerleading fraternity. By the 1920s women began supplanting men as cheerleaders, and Tex Schramm introduced professional, modelesque cheerleaders to his Dallas Cowboys franchise.