They got Spirit, Yes they Do: How Cheerleaders and Dancers Influence College Sports

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Laurel Traynowicz


Nearly all universities and professional sport teams have cheer squads and/ or dance teams to encourage spirit at their sporting events. Yet research on cheer squads and dance teams is limited, especially in the area of influence on spectators and the sport being played. The specific aim of this research was to uncover the influences that cheerleaders and dance teams have on spectators at college revenue sporting events and professional sporting events. For this study, cheerleaders, dancers and spectators from Division I NCAA and professional sporting events were interviewed. Additionally, observation research of cheerleaders’ and dancers’ physical actions and how spectators responded during sporting events was conducted at Division I men’s college basketball, Division I women’s college basketball, and professional development-league basketball over a two-month span during the 2013-2014 season. Face-to-face interviews provided respondents’ experiences with and perceptions of cheerleading and dancing. Preliminary data analysis revealed that spectators regarded cheerleaders’ purpose as entertainment during pauses in the game (e.g., timeouts and halftime), and the dancers received more attention during these pauses than cheerleaders. Additional findings pertaining to entertainment, rather than improving spirit of spectators, will be presented, and implications for future research will be drawn.

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