Yep. At least that is what Newsweek would have us believe. They attended the 2007 World Cheerleading Championships in Orlando, Florida, last month and noted that 38 teams from 15 foreign countries participated in the international events. Two years ago, when the international events were launched, three teams showed up.
Why now? Globalization, of course. ESPN International has been broadcasting American spirit competitions around the world since 1997. Add movies that feature cheerleaders—like “Bring It On,” an international hit—and NFL teams’ bringing along cheerleaders when they play exhibition games overseas, and you get a wave of kids attracted to modern cheerleading’s athleticism and élan.
Ah, yes. ESPN’s coverage of cheerleading — many a morning we have cursed its existence, tuning in to see baseball or basketball and instead being greeted with pigtails, fake smiles and … uh … élan?
So, why China?
China, as usual, is the most aggressive of the up-and-comers. The country’s leaders hope the sport will help reverse declines in children’s health that have accompanied modernization. They also hope cheer’s camaraderie will fight the isolation many of China’s studious children feel. As a result, Beijing is promoting cheer in schools, inviting American coaches to run clinics and creating cheer majors and scholarships at sports universities.
Cheerleading, the secret to creating a harmonious society. Who knew?
As far as we can tell, the Chinese teams participating in the World Championships were:
Nanning No. 26 Middle School (Guangxi)
Guangzhou Sports University (Guangdong)
Wuhan Institute of Physical Education (Hubei) (this photo can’t be right)
Xi Hua University (Chengdu, Sichuan)
Zhengzhou No. 14 Middle School (Henan)
Sias International University (Zhengzhou, Henan)
For more professional photos of the event (you know you want them), go here. There are some videos at YouTube, but none of the Chinese teams as far as we could tell. And here are the results.
And so ends our first, and likely last, post about cheerleading.
Photo from jamiechristian.net.