Underpaid NFL Decorations: Cheerleaders!

USA National Competition
USA National Competition

Go Team Go!

Cheerleaders are an American phenomenon. Like basketball, it originated in the USA (unlike football, which has its roots in English rugby). Cheerleading is a team sport with annual competitions for routines and synchronicity. They are in all American high schools, colleges and universities to urge team support. There are some oddities, for instance, why are there no cheerleaders at soccer games? baseball games? hockey games? Perhaps because of a lack of space? In any case, they are present at football and basketball games.

Most men have a sexist view of the girls or women in the scantily dressed outfits. Most do not think it is a sport and just an ornament for the team. Apparently, the NFL thinks the same way. I use to think that a woman making it to an NFL cheer squad (like the vaunted Oakland Raiders, or Dallas Cowboys) earned significant income from it. I thought the sacrifice of practice and time spent in learning routines (which is very time consuming with a squad of 10 or more) and being a representative of an NFL team franchise worth hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, would earn decent money. Not so.

Many NFL teams have disbanded their cheerleading squads to avoid lawsuits for violating the US minimum wage law, which is at a ridiculous $8 hr. The teams are the Buffalo Bills, NY Jets, Bengals and Tampa Bay. How stingy are they? They pay a single player millions of dollars and refuse to pay adult cheerleaders the min. wage?! In one such law suit against the Raiders, the court awarded 90 women $1.25 million in back pay because they were not paying at least the min. wage. The Bengals only paid $45 to each cheerleader per game. The Buffalo Bills required the women to work for 16 hours a week and in return they would get free access to the game! Huh?

These NFL teammates feel exploited. The Jets paid each $150 a game, was the highest in the league. These women do attract new NFL fans and a host of other PR advertising, the most famous of them are the Oakland Raiderettes. They are hanging from many car garages and decorate many calendars. Some of them must pass the "jiggle" test when trying out (as in, shaking their boobs).

Unlike other teams, the Cowboys pay their cheerleaders for their practices and during the game. Each one makes $150 a game. They are the exception. Fans are learning that the most powerful sports league in the U.S., with $9.7 billion in annual revenue, pays its sideline performers worse than the average birthday clown or barista. OMG. It would cost just $235,000 to pay every Bills cheerleader New York’s $8 hourly minimum wage for 20 hours per week for 42 weeks per year. The min. salary in the NFL for a player is double that rate!

The NFL should spread the wealth!


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