Entertainers or athletes? Leaders or losers? Cheerleaders, numbering 3.8 million in the United States alone, are part of everyone's school memories. Looking beyond the poms and megaphones, Cheerleader! An American Icon explores how the sport reflects our shifting beliefs about athletics, entertainment, gender, and national identity. Natalie Guice Adams and Pamela J. Bettis trace cheerleading's history, from its inception 135 years ago as a male leadership activity, through the sassy era epitomized by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, to its current incarnation as a physically demanding sport. Integrating history, pop culture, and interviews with participants of all ages and even those in the business, Adams and Bettis simultaneously celebrate cheering and provide critical analysis as well. Cheerleader!: An American Icon is a poignant, hilarious, powerful, and revealing look at a perennially popular activity.