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PNG images: Cheerleader

Cheer-leading ranges from chanting, to intense physical activity for sports team motivation, audience entertainment, or competition based upon organised routines. Competitive routines typically range anywhere from one to three minutes, and contain components of tumbling, dance, jumps, cheers, and stunting.

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Cheerleading originated in the United States, and remains predominantly in America, with an estimated 1.5 million participants in all-star cheerleading. The global presentation of cheerleading was led by the 1997 broadcast of ESPN's International cheerleading competition, and the worldwide release of the 2000 film Bring It On. Due in part to this recent exposure, there are now an estimated 100,000 participants scattered around the globe in Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Cheerleading began during the late 18th century with the rebellion of male students. After the American Revolutionary War, students experienced harsh treatment from teachers. In response to faculty's abuse, college students violently acted out. The undergraduates began to riot, burn down buildings located on their college campuses, and assault faculty members. As a more subtle way to gain independence, however, students invented and organised their own extracurricular activities outside their professors' control. This brought about American sports, beginning first with collegiate teams.

In the 1860s, students from Great Britain began to cheer and chant in unison for their favourite athletes at sporting events. Soon, that gesture of support crossed overseas to America.

On November 6, 1869, the United States witnessed its first intercollegiate football game. It took place between Princeton and Rutgers University, and marked the day the original "Sis Boom Rah!" cheer was shouted out by student fans.

In 1923, at the University of Minnesota, women were permitted to participate in cheerleading. However, it took time for other schools to follow. In the late 1920s, many school manuals and newspapers that were published still referred to cheerleaders as "chap," "fellow," and "man". Women cheerleaders were overlooked until the 1940s. In the 1940s, collegiate men were drafted for World War II, creating the opportunity for more women to make their way onto sporting event sidelines. As noted by Kieran Scott in Ultimate Cheerleading: "Girls really took over for the first time." An overview written on behalf of cheerleading in 1955 explained that in larger schools, "occasionally boys as well as girls are included,", and in smaller schools, "boys can usually find their place in the athletic program, and cheerleading is likely to remain solely a feminine occupation." During the 1950s, cheerleading in America also increased in popularity. By the 1960s, some began to consider cheerleading a feminine extracurricular for boys, and by the 1970s, girls primarily cheered at public school games. However, this did not stop its growth. Cheerleading could be found at almost every school level across the country, even pee wee and youth leagues began to appear.

In 1975, it was estimated by a man named Randy Neil that over 500,000 students actively participated in American cheerleading from grade school to the collegiate level. He also approximated that ninety-five percent of cheerleaders within America were female. Since 1973, cheerleaders have started to attend female basketball and other all-female sports as well.

As of 2005, overall statistics show around 97% of all modern cheerleading participants are female, although at the collegiate level, cheerleading is co-ed with about 50% of participants being male.