In 2007, Newsweek covered the growing popularity of cheerleading outside of the United States, citing globalization as a major factor. They attributed this spread to the fact that ESPN International has been showing U.S. competitions globally since 1997. They also credited movies like Bring It On as reasons for cheer’s popularity in places like Japan and Australia. Add to that the fact that NFL teams brought along cheerleaders when they played overseas, and “you get a wave of kids attracted to modern cheerleading’s athleticism and élan.”
Nine years later, this trend is stronger than ever before, and it’s evident at Worlds—in 2015, teams from Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, England and Thailand placed right up there with the leading U.S. competitors. The number of countries participating has quadrupled since 2007 and is expected to hit 40 countries in 2016.