Questions To Consider

  • What is the role of cheerleaders for an NFL team?
  • Why do you think the cheerleaders have different rules to follow than the players on the team?
  • How would you feel if your boss was trying to tell you how to conduct your private life?
  • When women are paid too little, what are some effects on their future careers or their families?

What We Think

Well here’s one of the most unfair setups for women we’ve seen in a long time… When New Orleans Saints cheerleader Bailey Davis was fired for posting a photo of herself in a lacy one-piece outfit on her private Instagram account, she went on to disclose to the public some of the absurd guidelines professional cheerleaders are asked to follow.

The rules highlight a double-standard for the cheerleaders — who are required to

  1. block any NFL players who follow them on social media
  2. not converse — in public or online — with players
  3. leave any restaurant patronized by a player … regardless of who arrived first.

(Players are under no such restrictions.)

And it’s not just the Saints; many teams have restrictive rules for cheerleaders — and their private lives — that don’t apply to the players or mascots, who are often played by men. These include not wearing sweatpants, no “negative facial expressions,” and requirements about hair styles, jewelry, and nail polish…and all of these are about the cheerleaders’ actions off the field.

You might think that cheerleaders bring in a big paycheck for all of these restrictive rules, but you’d be wrong. Most NFL cheerleaders make only a few thousand dollars per year. In 2014, a lawsuit was filed because the Oakland Raiderettes made just $5 per hour. The result of the suit brought their pay up to a whopping $9 per hour, the then-California minimum wage.

While it might not be realistic to suggest that NFL cheerleaders receive the exorbitant salaries of NFL athletes, they should at least receive a paycheck on par with other sideline team advocates such as mascots who are — gasp! — paid a living wage of $25-$60,000 per year. Come on, NFL. You can do better. — Amanda E. Snyder

Where We Saw It, March 27, 2018

New York Times, April 2, 2018