When soccer first landed on US shores, it wasn’t deemed exciting enough to watch so plans were put in place to add glitz and glamour to it. In the present day, the MLS has introduced a variety of additions in and around the game to keep the watching public entertained. One such addition is drawn from a variety of US sports including Basketball and American football – Cheerleaders.
Cheerleading has been around since the 1870’s, firstly as all male cheerleading teams then later introducing women into the fold which has gradually become the norm. From middle school to high school to college and professional troupes, cheerleading has grown into a national past time in the US and its now spreading its wings further with several countries embracing the sport. For the British football fans, cheerleaders at games was a foreign concept for a long time, with pies and bovril the only half time entertainment as such. That was until some clubs decided to lead the way and introduce cheerleaders into their pre game and half time show.
Blackburn Rovers was surprisingly one of the first teams to introduce cheerleaders into is pre game and half time entertainment shows but other clubs like Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday and West Ham have followed suit. Whilst they have all attracted some media attention, notably Blackburn in 2007 due to their inclusion of the UK’s first male cheerleader called Andrew and West Ham for their fairly raunchy performances, none have captured the media’s attention as much as Crystal Palace’s team, known simply as The Crystals.
Whilst they have received a lot of negative remarks from their own fans recently who blame them for the teams poor form instead of the players themselves, what The Crystals have done is help to build the clubs brand across the globe with their clever marketing efforts. The Crystals have taken to social media and released a series of song cover versions that have gathered millions of views on YouTube alone. Their cover of the Carly Rae Jepson song “Call me, Maybe” has been viewed nearly 2 million times, their latest cover of Psy’s “Gangnam Style” is at 1.2million and growing daily and the girls have just released their christmas version of Mariah Carey’s ” All I want for Christmas is you” which looks like it will follow the same path as the previous releases.
Regardless of how you view this, be it a promotion gimic or a tasteless distraction in the beautiful game, The Crystals and the other cheerleading troupes continue to perform in front of crowds in all types of weather, regardless of how the team is performing. Most troupes are made up of genuine fans of the clubs who are passionate about what they do and receive no form of compensation for doing it. The question of if it adds anything to the fans enjoyment of the game is still unresolved but for most, particularly Palace fans, it’s a welcome distraction for the poor performances they are having to watch on the pitch.
To watch the Crystals version of Call me Maybe, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6N2vwe9Swk
To watch the Crystals version of Gangnam, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TK6sKMU985g
To watch the Crystals version of All I want, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfWDSh1kKAA