The majority of early cheerleaders were men—in large part because squads did not begin opening their ranks to women until the 1920s. The gender balance shifted further during World War II, when an increasing number of women filled positions vacated by men who had been drafted to fight in the war. By the 1960s, the sport became dominated by women, as National Football League teams began to organize professional squads.
These interesting vintage photos published by LIFE magazine from the late 1930s until it ceased publication in 1972, give a glimpse into everyday American pastimes...
|Male cheerleaders in action at Wisconsin-Marquette football game, 1939. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)|
|Howard University cheerleader Alfreda Young leading cheer during football game, 1946. (Alfred Eisenstaedt—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)|
|Sixty high school cheerleaders with crepe-paper pompons whip up football spirit, 1947. (Ralph Crane—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)|
|SMU cheerleader leaping high into air at University of Texas football game, 1950. (Loomis Dean—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)|
|Cheerleaders at Florida State University, 1952. (Robert W. Kelley—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)|
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