Athletics and Recreation

Are NFL Cheerleaders Treated Fairly?

Are NFL Cheerleaders Treated Fairly?

most NFL teams have cheerleaders you see them on the sidelines during games and sometimes during halftime looks like they're having fun right but recent reports of harassment lack of compensation and gender discrimination have shined a light on the treatment of cheerleaders in the NFL the New York Times reported on some alleged details of the job that are sketchy to say the least we talked to four former NFL cheerleaders who shared their experiences my experience was very positive I really felt empowered by the entire experience the first team to have cheerleaders was the Baltimore Colts in 1954 since then getting a highly coveted spot on a squad has become super competitive every year thousands of women try out for the job that's right it's a paid position which is officially considered to be part-time and each team sets the guidelines and pay scales for its respective squad not only do the cheerleaders have to be on hand for games they also have mandatory practices and appearances but as it turns out they're not always getting properly compensated for their time in 2014 the Oakland Raiders paid a 1.2 million dollar settlement to former cheerleaders after a class-action lawsuit alleging wage theft I think that the women are intimidated Sharron Vinick is an attorney worked on the 2014 class action lawsuit against the Raiders the women are told that they're really really fortunate to be dancing and if they don't want to dance they don't have to and they should be grateful for whatever opportunity they have but compare that to the guys who are the quarterbacks I mean they're very lucky to be quarterbacks but they're still paid millions of dollars and there's the sense of equity that some of the women just don't perceive but this spring thousands of women still showed up to try and make the cut for season we wanted to find out what the job is really like from the women who've actually done it twin sisters Dresden and Skylar were nell cheered for the Houston Texans from 2010 to 2014 if I do have a daughter in the future I would definitely allow her to cheer for the Houston Texans Jennifer Omohundro cheered for two teams over the course of six seasons she started with the Tennessee Titans in 1999 and finished with the Atlanta Falcons in 2005 I'm sad to hear that there's actually this really negative press that's going around it's a wonderful experience I think it's for everyone kind of how you treat it and how you take it Rachel Swartz cheered for the Philadelphia Eagles for the 2015 and 2016 seasons my experience was very positive I really felt empowered by the entire experience it is really unfortunate to hear a lot of the other stories about women who have not had the same positive experience I have we asked these former cheerleaders to address the issues raised in the recent headlines and we started with compensation can you give me an idea of like what you were paid or what you could take home in a season on average I mean would you feel it was appropriate if I asked you how much you made so no we were paid for every hour we were in uniform or in practice it would not be something that you would live off it's a long time I don't I don't remember but I can show you it was definitely minimal I think we got 200 yeah $200 a game okay without $200 a game plus practicing plus the appearances we got paid for practicing we got paid for appearances if we had to drive to the appearance that got reimbursed for paid or mileage for the mileage I read articles about like the Oakland Raiders are and I'm just like in shock I'm like how does this happen the cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders for example got $1,250 per season we understand from reports that mascots get paid between forty and sixty thousand dollars per season plus benefits and the lease played NFL player someone who's a benchwarmer doesn't play in a game gets paid $100,000 but $1,250 is less money than someone who's selling hot dogs in the city stands gets paid NFL cheerleading squads have strict social media restrictions so strict in fact that a former New Orleans Saints cheerleader was fired over an Instagram post she's currently suing for discrimination according to the former cheerleaders we talked to these restrictions are common I know it's a bit different in other organizations but we did not have Instagram Twitter Facebook who weren't allowed to have any of those and that was mainly for our protection I think there had been situations in the past where security measures had to be taken and I think this was just one of them and this was just one of the rules they had in order to make sure everyone felt safe and protected personally I always thought the rule was kind of stupid I mean to be quite frank you know it's just like how are you going to tell me that I can't post part of my life I can see why for the most part so for the organization telling you know you personally that you can't post what you do most of your days I thought it was really really done but I've it's so funny and when people like kind of retire we say or don't make the team and you see their Instagram our Facebook and it's like pictures while the no social media rule is common some teams like the Denver Broncos allow their cheerleaders to post from social media accounts officially affiliated with the team one of the most common rules for NFL cheerleaders is that interaction with players is strictly prohibited and violation of this rule can result in immediate termination there were general rules of no fraternization meaning like no dating the players even though they've run past us on the field sometimes that would be the only time we were really around them I mean they're professionals they're doing their thing as athletes and we were chewing hours they make it very clear yes once you make the team you know they give this big speech that you cannot be associated with the players you we will get fired and they won't yeah they'd even go as far as saying if say you're at a restaurant and a couple of players come in you know we would have to leave because they don't even want us in the same room I think it's sort of like a rule that you would see in any other business don't get your coworkers I think it's the same type of principle there's still some players that reach out to cheerleaders and the chillers reach out to them so obviously we sign these contracts but not everyone abides by the rules it's just I think human nature I would say there were some uncomfortable situations but the organization did everything to really protect us and you know really preempt any of those situations whether that's by having security with us at all appearances or you know when you're in the Suites taking pictures having somebody hold a football instead of putting their arms around us I do think again as these situations come up the organization really took the right steps in making sure we felt safe at all times I think that comes the territory you know with anything if you're going to put a bunch of girls together there's gonna be some mostly male interaction or male attention that you really don't want so because of that we always had a police escort that would walk Texans are very good very good at making sure that we felt safe our second year a few girls have like stalkers the Texans organizations like we're right on it they never had us worried or question our safety every time we practiced we had a police officer with us we never were like alone so the women we talked to seemed to have experiences that were overwhelmingly positive but every team is different and only time will tell if the ones under scrutiny will actually change for the better what would be your advice to a cheerleader an NFL cheerleader who is on the fence about seeking further help about a possible injustice my advice would be that you should think hard about whether you want to be part of a system that allows this to happen or whether you want to change that system because it's only by women like our brave clients Lacey and Sarah standing up and advocating for a change that you're going to see differences as you go forward so I encourage all women to stand up for the world they'd like to see every experience is different and if you're a former NFL cheerleader and you want to share your story with us we'd love to hear it and we'd love to tell it so if you want to share it with us please email me at G Flannigan at Business Insider com

Reader Comments

  1. Honestly Rachel Swartz was kinda kissing the nfl butt I mean… she was petty hesitant with her answer

  2. I hate this – they are not satisfied with their wage ? Quit that damn job and find another …. I believe that 99.9% of cheerleader wouldn't apply for hard manual work and thats the main problem … you are comparing cheerleader to a mascot ? Damn than quit cheerleading and apply for job to be a mascot ….

  3. The reason they don’t get paid a lot is because people don’t come to watch cheerleaders they come to watch the players.

  4. Another point is the lady says that bench warmers get paid $100,000 that's because they are important if someone gets injured

  5. The reason the quarter back is payed more is because his position is needed in football unlike cheerleaders

  6. Nobody is forcing them to do it. Seems like they're desperate for the job anyways! They all seemed to be happy to dance too!

  7. Why is it officially "part time"? There is no "part time" for this kind of job, you need to put your whole world on hold to pursue it, the same as the players, so why the inequity? Just cause they are pretty? Because they are women? They are not PURELY hired because of their looks, its a very athletic job, and they need a lot of skill and fitness to do it, so why the disrespect?

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