This is via Chross. According to his source:
“The photo was taken at a local college basketball game. In this particular instance one of the inexperienced freshman cheerleaders in her enthusiasm stepped backwards onto the court and interfered with a play on the court costing her team some points. The other cheerleaders, being very upset with her, surrounded her and spanked her right there in public. A newspaper photographer who was covering the game took the attached photo of her right after she was spanked and it was published in my local newspaper the next day.”
The spanking can’t have been all that spontaneous, however, or why was there a big paddle handy as seen under her left hand? Dr. Ken at Spanking Minnesota offers some cultural context:
There was a time, in those glorious days of yesteryear, when certain schools and certain rivalries had a tradition among their cheerleading squads–the cheerleaders for the losing team got spanked or, more accurately, got paddle swats. Sometimes it was the entire opposing squad, sometimes one girl would simply be designated to be the recipient. The swats might equal one swat from each member of the opposing squad, or the number of swats given might be based on the point differential–if your team lost by 20 points, the designated spankee got 20 swats.
That would explain why they had a paddle at the game!
I remain curious, however. 1961 was before my time. Was this really a thing? Was there really a time in America when local sports contents featured public spankings by rival cheerleaders for the entertainment of the crowd? If you have memories (or more newspaper clippings) to share, please post in the comments!