Artifact of the Month: UNC Cardboard jacket

This morning’s cool weather may have sparked some to wonder whether fall has arrived. Autumn is more than a month away, but fall sports—think football—is a mere two weeks away for UNC Tar Heel fans!  May’s “Artifact of the Month” highlighted the contributions to the game by Carolina’s cheerleaders.  This month we salute the members of UNC Cardboard, students who planned and executed card stunts during halftime at home football games.  Norman Sper, a UNC cheerleader in the class of  ’50, brought the tradition to Carolina in 1948 after admiring the card shows at UCLA. For a few decades in the mid to late twentieth century, students sitting in the lower deck on Kenan Stadium’s south side flipped colored cards to make designs and spell out words.   By the early 1950s more than 2,000 students participated in the stunts, and UNC’s card section was believed to be the largest in the eastern United States.

Jacket courtesy of F. Marion Redd
Jacket courtesy of F. Marion Redd

This navy jacket was awarded for service to F. Marion Redd ’67, who led the club during the 1966-67 academic year.  According to Redd, club leaders preplanned stunts on grid paper and hand stamped and placed all instruction cards underneath stadium seats the evening before the game


Stunt instruction card for UNC vs. Wake Forest, 1966.  Other cards used colors rather than stunt names. Instruction card courtesy of F. Marion Redd.
Stunt instruction card for UNC vs. Wake Forest, 1966. Other cards used colors rather than stunt names. Instruction card courtesy of F. Marion Redd.
"Hi Deacs" stunt, 1966. Photograph courtesy of F. Marion Redd.
“Hi Deacs” stunt, 1966. Photograph courtesy of F. Marion Redd.

UNC Cardboard was an official student organization and was funded by the Carolina Athletic Association.  It’s unclear when or why Cardboard stopped performing stunts.  In the late 1960s there were several occasions when students hurled cards at the end of games, injuring other fans. These incidents left University administrators threatening to pull the plug on card stunts at football games.  Perhaps one of our readers can offer more details on the demise of UNC Cardboard?

6 thoughts on “Artifact of the Month: UNC Cardboard jacket”

  1. I remember them well, participated during the 1959 season, I can still see the cards flying all over the place when we scored late in the game ahainst Notre Dame to win the game. Did not make the card designers happy.

  2. I was a student at UNC from 1986-1990, and remember taking part in the card section. It ended when I was there, I believe in the 1987 or 1988.

  3. I was a student from fall 1975-spring 1979. I participated in the card section every year. It was the best seating section for students. It probably ended because too many students would indeed toss the cards afterwards. They were large and heavy and could cause injury when tossed. Too bad, it was fun and looked great.

  4. A very interesting and informative post, Linda. Thanks very much for sharing the many interesting items in “The Gallery.”

    There is no mention of the UNC “Cardboard” in the 1989 Yack (for the year 1988). So that’s a good indication that it was discontinued in 1987 as Jay said in his comment.

    There is a Hugh Morton photograph in the North Carolina Collection, taken at the 1957 UNC vs. Maryland game when Queen Elizabeth visited. The Maryland Card Section formed the Union Jack:

    Does any of the ACC schools still do card stunts?

    There is a Youtube video of a USC stunt taken in 2012:

  5. Thanks to all for your informative comments, and to Jack for the links to the photo and the YouTube video. So, we now know it ended in the late 80s. I wonder if it was stopped because of card throwing or if people just lost interest.

  6. Linda, I was doing some research for a V2H piece today when I ran across an interesting article about the UNC Card Section. The story is in “The State” magazine for December 10, 1949 and is on page 8.

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