Cheerleading, the NFL and Fair Wages

by - Thursday, January 30, 2014

Have you all seen in the news how the Raiderettes (the professional cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders) are suing the Raiders for a whole bunch of things that basically amount to unfair and perhaps illegal employment practices?

When I first saw the headlines, I was a intrigued and wanted to know what the heck was going on. As I started reading more about it though, I became more and more outraged at the Raiders organization and the NFL.

Let me take a step back quickly and say that I am a huge football fan. I love the NFL. I happily spend my Sundays camping out on the sofa watching hours and hours of grown men throwing a pigskin around and acting like idiots when they score a touchdown or sack the quarterback.

Love my Eagles!

I buy jerseys, I play fantasy football, in general I invest a lot of time and energy into loving the NFL.

On the flip side of the coin, I think cheerleading is kind of silly. I've never quite understood the point of girls in short skirts and pom poms jumping around on the sidelines. They don't get to watch the game, they're pretty much just there to be eye candy for the drunk dudes in the stands.

Don't get me wrong, I know there is some level of skill involved in cheerleading, and that it's an athletic event when done in a competitive setting. Maryland used to have a competitive cheer team. Those girls didn't jump around and go "Rah, rah" at games. They did crazy flips and intense feats of gymnastic prowess at competitions around the country and won a few national championships.

But all my personal feelings about cheerleading aside, if a girl decides that's what she wants to do, and she goes and tries out and makes a professional squad, she should freakin' be paid fair wages for all the time and energy she puts into it.

The Raiderettes get paid something like $1,250 per season (which after rehearsals, games, special events, etc amounts to less than $5 per hour) -- all paid at the end of the season, after a whole bunch of fines have been taken out of the pay. What are the fines for you might ask?

Deadspin published a nice list:

Forget to bring (including but not limited to) correct pom(s) or props to practice? $10.00 fine

Wear wrong designated workout wear and/or footwear for two-piece Wednesday rehearsals, special rehearsals and/or game day rehearsals? $10.00 fine

Not able to get bios in on time? $10.00 fine

Forget all or part of the official uniform, boots, and or poms for any event or game day? $10.00 fine (per item) and/or benched from game (-125.00)

Boots not clean and polished for game day? $10.00 fine

Failure to follow point #1 under Etiquette or Appearances (Game Day Ready)? $10.00 fine

FINES WILL CONTINUE TO DOUBLE IF INFRACTIONS CONTINUE. Example: a $10 fine will go up to $20 if you forget to wear the proper attire for a second time, etc.

There are other ridiculous employment practices too -- like forcing the girls to pay for certain hairstyles by a certain hairstylist, paying for transportation costs, and getting benched and not paid for a game if they miss a day of practice or "look too soft" (to be read, perhaps gain a few pounds or bloat a bit).

Seeing this bubble up in the news the other day really pissed me off. Teams in the NFL can afford to pay players millions and millions of dollars. They make a disgusting amount of money from ticket, food and apparel sales and somehow can't afford to treat their cheerleaders human beings worthy of a fair wage.

That's some crap.

I hope the Raiderettes win their lawsuit and the team is forced to pay them fair wages.

End rant.

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  1. Wow, that's incredible!! I never knew that. I can't imagine why anyone would want to do it. A friend of mine had a sister that was a Patriots cheerleader, but she was also a I understand why she needed the teaching job. LOL