Very few people who claim to be reputable sports fans would ever claim to think that cheerleading is a glamorous job in the NFL, or something anywhere close to it. After all the wonderful women who cheer on millionaires who are throwing their bodies around at each other for three hours at a time are normally viewed as nothing more than sex symbols by people watching at home, and are even treated that way by people in the stands.
Still, most people would think that cheerleaders would make enough to simply live off of, or to pay for the colleges and universities that many of them are attending, and in that area, they would be dead wrong. This has been recently brought to light by a lawsuit from the Oakland Raiders cheerleading team — the Raiderettes — against their employers who make football teams look worse than anyone could have imagined.
Amongst the claims that the Raiderettes made in their lawsuit was that they only earned $1,250 for the entirety of the 2013 season, which they have claimed translates to $5 per hour for the various appearances they make throughout the year. For anyone out there that didn’t know, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, which would mean that the average cheerleader makes 31 percent less than the 16 year old who works at your local fast food restaurant.
The claims that have been made against the Raiders — and other NFL teams in past seasons — does not stop with being paid ridiculously low wages though. Members of the lawsuit have said they had wages held from them consistently, were not paid for all of their appearances, and were even fined for such trivial things as bringing the wrong pom-poms to practice. All of this truly means that those people who we thought were making $2.25 under the federal minimum wage are actually making less than we thought, and for more work than has been documented.
Of course, I am not the person to be deciding exactly how much cheerleaders in the NFL are making, but in a league that brings in $9.5 billion in revenue each year, and the average player makes $1.9 million, it should certainly be greater than $1,250 per year. After all, these women are constantly degraded for the work they do, go to loads of appearances outside of their practices and game duties, and are often working other jobs and going to school while also balancing this load.
It is time for someone to stand up and take a stand for cheerleaders, as it has been shown that Roger Goodell and company clearly don’t listen to their employees until a lawsuit is filed (just look at the NFL players concussion lawsuit). One can only hope that fans, the media and players alike make the same push to change the abuses against cheerleaders that they did against those who entertain on the field.