Learning How to Be a Fan


U-M "Pom-Pom girls" on the sidelines at 1974 football game against Iowa.

In the fall of 1953, the Women's Athletic Association (WAA) hosted a “Football Clinic” for female students to “learn how to be a better spectator.”[1] This event emphasized the importance of athletics as a social activity and hoped to foster a more enjoyable viewing experience for fans. In 1955, the WAA hosted another football clinic and the “interest of University male students was so great” that the organization decided to open it to men as well.[2] At the games themselves, Athletic Director Canham had the Marching Band perform at halftime, instituted female cheerleaders, or “Pom-Pom girls,” on the sidelines, and encouraged families to tailgate in the parking lot before games.

[1] “Women’s Athletic Association 1953-54,” Women’s Athletic Association 1952-54, Box 3, Women’s Athletic Association (University of Michigan) Records 1905-1962, University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, MI.

[2] “WAA to Offer Football Clinic for Coeds.” The Michigan Daily, September 27, 1955. https://digital.bentley.umich.edu/midaily/mdp.39015071756394/81.

Learning How to Be a Fan