Cheerleading in Russia
Few archetypes so exemplify every stereotype of women in modern culture as that of the cheerleader. An uneasy juxtaposition of clean-cut athlete, ultra-feminine bubble-headed socialite, and skilled dancer, the cheerleader is at the same time admired and ridiculed, lusted after and legitimized by everyone from junior high school girls to male sports fans. In Russia, cheerleading is relatively new. February 12, 2007 cheerleading in Russia was officially recognized as a sport. Its start in the Russian Federation is connected with the advent of American football. First cheerleading team was established in Russia in 1996 with the Children’s League of American Football (CLAF). Soon the interest of girls to the original sport has grown so much that in January 1998 was established an autonomous non-profit organization “Leisure Club Assol”, whose main task was the development of the program of support group for sports teams. In August 1999, on the initiative of the club “Assol” was registered the Federation of Cheerleaders. A little later, it was joined by the regional federation of Astrakhan, Volgograd, Chelyabinsk, Magnitogorsk, Moscow Region, Perm, St. Petersburg.
Cheerleading popularity continued to grow rapidly: in 1999 in the Moscow Palace of Sports “Dynamo”, was held the first cheerleading competition. February 12, 2007 cheerleading in Russia was officially recognized as a sport. November 23, 2008 at the Palace of Sports “Dynamo” was organized the 1st World Cup cheerleading (IFC World Cup 2008), in which, among other countries, Russia took five prizes, including 3rd place in the Cheer All Female 16+ (Senior), 1st and 3rd place in the category Cheer Mixed 16+ (Senior), 2nd and 3rd places Cheer All Female 12-15 (Junior) and third place in the Group Stunts 16+ (Senior). December 1st, 2008 has been officially registered Russian Federation Cheerleading.
Significant for the Russian Cheerleading became the sixth world championship in cheerleading (CWC), held on 26-27 November 2011 in Hong Kong (PRC). 1st place in the Cheer Dance 16+ (Senior) then took the Moscow team “Non Stop» (Non Stop) under coach Hope Denisova, becoming 12 years in the sport the first Russian team to win the title of world champions.
Public figures as widely diverse as Gloria Steinem, John Connally, and Paula Abdul spent part of their early years urging the crowd to cheer for their athletic team. Cheerleading as we know it began in November 1898 at a University of Minnesota football game, when an enthusiastic student named Johnny Campbell jumped up to yell:
Rah, Rah, Rah
The idea caught on.
Many supporters of cheerleading stress the athletic side of cheerleading and the strength required to perform the jumps and gymnastic feats that accompany cheers. There are local and national cheerleading competitions, where squads compete and are judged on creativity, execution, degree of difficulty, and overall performance. Over the years, cheerleading has developed from simple gestures and jumps to difficult gymnastic stunts and complex dance routines.
Another sort of cheerleading is found in professional sports. While fitting a standard mold of attractiveness is one of the primary requisites of any sort of cheerleading, the professional squads have taken it to extremes.
The cheerleaders perform for exposure and love of their team rather than money. In an industry where the athletes might earn millions, most cheerleaders are paid only ten to twenty-five dollars a game. Some are able to acquire contracts for local advertising to supplement their income, and some hope to go on to show business careers, but for many, just as in high school, it is the admiration of the crowd and the identification with the team that is the payoff.
Debate continues over whether cheerleaders are athletes or bimbos; whether cheerleading is, in itself, a sport, or an adjunct to the real (mostly male) sports. Some women devote their lives to
cheerleading, for themselves or their daughters; some women condemn it because it turns women into boosters at best and sex objects at worst. Some men delight in watching the dances of the flamboyant squads at half-time; some men see them as a distraction to the game and believe they should be abolished. And in junior high and high schools across the country, girls, even many who profess not to care, still train to perform difficult routines for tryouts and anxiously watch bulletin boards to see if they made the squad.
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Vol. 1