Cheerleading has been around for more than 30 years. According to both varsity.com and cheerleading.com, cheerleading has strong ties to American football.
The first intercollegiate football game was played between Princeton and Rutgers in 1869. A little more than 10 years later, Princeton had formed an all-male pep club, with designated leaders of cheers.
A Princeton graduate later took that concept with him to University of Minnesota. In 1889, a University of Minnesota student really grabbed hold of the concept while watching his team battle a losing streak, and started leading cheers to help energize and cheer on the players. And so it began.
By the 1960s, cheer was everywhere, in all levels of school. And for good reason. Cheerleaders promote, build, and enhance school spirit. They rally people together, help people have a good time, and help football teams energize to win games.
We want more cheerleaders. There is a reason we use the help of Alpena High School cheerleaders to sell fireworks buttons, and invited them to be part of our annual dinner this year. It's the same reason we look for the encouraging, cheerful type of person to become Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors. They help create a positive feeling that inspires and motivates others.
Just like football and other sports benefit from cheerleaders, our community does too. When you attend a sporting event, you see that not everyone is part of the actual cheer team. But you will also notice that there are many spectators cheering from the stands - all for the same goal. They want to cheer their team to victory.
In this community, we are all on the same team. It's team Alpena. We need cheerleaders to help cheer the team on toward victory. Some cheerleaders will be out front leading the cheers, others will cheer from the stands. But the important thing is that everyone is saying the same cheer and cheering their team to victory. And if not to victory, to play the very best they can play in the effort.
Have you ever been to a sporting event where there was a negative fan in the stands? One who complained constantly and found fault with everything the ref or players did? What did you do? I've seen it before. I think it is embarrassing to sit by that person. Other people give that person dirty looks. I've heard other fans ask that person to keep their mouth shut. I've seen people change seats to move away from that negative spectator.
Unfortunately there are people in a community who are like that fan. The person no one wants to be around because they are embarrassingly negative. I want to surround myself with cheerleaders. Not the other type. And I hope you do too. It's not that we want a community full of Pollyannaism (optimism to the point of naivete), but we want people who support others. Even if they fail. Even if we don't completely agree with their ideas.
We want to support people in their efforts to take risks, to attempt to do something that might be good for a community, and to encourage others to take pride in their community. Those are the type I want to be surrounded by.
I never had a desire to be in organized cheerleading. Not because I don't like the sport, but because I had interest in other things. But I do have a desire to be part of a different cheer team. The team that is cheering for this community to continue moving forward. I hope you call yourself a member of this cheer team too. We could use a few more cheerleaders.
Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.