Keeping fans enthusiastic and supportive is the primary goal of pep rallies. It's important to devise pep rally activities that get fans on their feet, cheering and excited about their team. When team spirit is strong, everyone involved, from the cheerleaders to the coaches, has a better and more fun experience.
Punctuate the cheering and pep talks with regular small contests to get the fans engaged in the action. The prospect of winning something, however small, will often hold a crowd's attention. The contests can be as serious or as silly as you like. For example, divide the crowd into sections and give each section a collection of tiles that form a whole picture. They must put the puzzle together before the other sections to win. Or, create an obstacle course and choose a few members from the crowd to try it. Include funny "obstacles," such as eating a small apple or shaking hands with at least three other crowd members, and time the participants to see who finishes first. Give away a small prize at the end of each contest to the winner.
Before the pep rally, line the fences and any flat surfaces with sheets of white roll paper to create a giant blank canvas. Arrange spray paint, markers, finger paint, and crayons (mediums that are easy to use quickly) in the team's colors on the ground in front of the paper. Divide the paper into sections 10 to 15 feet long. When the crowd arrives, divide the members into sections of about 20 people. Explain that each group has five minutes to use their section of paper to create a "spirit display" using the materials provided. When they're ready, blow a whistle and watch them go at it. To make it more official, have a local artist come to the pep rally and serve as a judge. The winning group members each get a small prize, like a candy bar or a glow-in-the-dark necklace.
"Where's My Partner?"
This game is a fun way to get everyone laughing and talking to people they don't know. Before the pep rally, think of as many partner phrases as you can. Examples: peanut butter and jelly, yin and yang, to and fro, or hem and haw. (You can also use famous couples--just make sure they're truly ubiquitous so there's an excellent chance of everyone knowing who they are.) Write the words (without "and") on pieces of paper and mix them up. As people enter the pep rally area, make sure everyone receives a slip of paper and understands that they will need it for a game later. After everyone is seated, explain that they have five minutes to locate their partner using the information on their slip of paper. For example, if someone received "yin" they need to look for the person with "yang." Blow a whistle and let the chaos begin (blow the whistle at one-minute intervals to warn them of ticking time). At the end, every successful pair gets to pick a piece of candy from a big bowl.
The results of improvisation are often hilarious and a surefire way to get the crowd laughing. Before the pep rally, write up short lists (four or five words) of wildly different concepts. For example, one list might read: Bob Barker, ballerina, can opener, Mexico, ladder. Divide the team members into pairs or groups of three and give each a list. They have 30 seconds to prepare a one- or two-minute skit using all of the concepts on their list. After all the groups have had their turn, let the audience decide whose skit was best by cheering for their choice. The winning "actors" each get a small "Academy Award" (you can find small trophies for about a dollar at discount stores).