The tradition of a pep squad as a support for sports teams is one that many people are familiar with. These groups exist for many different types of high school and college sports, most notably football. Essentially, a pep squad is a group of individuals who have the responsibility of motivating and promoting enthusiasm for a particular sports team before and during a sports competition.
The use of the term varies to a degree from place to place. In some settings, the pep squad is considered to be the same as a cheerleading squad. Other locations see it as a separate entity from the cheerleaders, although they share a common purpose. This may lead to the squad being more of a dance team, performing more complicated routines that are usually associated with cheerleading. These dance teams are also sometimes identified as a drill squad or team.
Whether considered a part of the overall cheerleading team or as a companion group, the pep squad generally focuses on getting fans excited about their team of choice. It accomplishes this by involving the fans in verbal responses to motivational exclamations during a rally that takes place before a competition, as well as assisting the cheerleaders during the sports event. Often, the group will employ elaborate dance routines that help to increase the spirit among the fans, getting the crowd motivated to yell and scream for the home team.
Being part of a pep squad usually requires a certain level of physical fitness, grace of movement, and the ability to master choreography quickly and easily. Since membership also requires a firm commitment of time and effort, there is usually a requirement of maintaining a minimum grade point average as well. Most high schools and colleges that support participation in such groups tend to hold tryouts or auditions. People who demonstrate the abilities required are invited to join the squad and begin the process of learning the routines immediately.
Generations of sports fans have delighted in the presence of the pep squad at college and high school games, noting that their enthusiasm as being part of what makes live sports so much fun. As one of the more important traditions that help to keep sports such a huge part of the national heritage, the value of this group cannot be underestimated.