5 Reasons Why NFL Cheerleading Is A Scam

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5 Reasons Why NFL Cheerleading is a Scam

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Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The internet is abuzz with activity over the last couple of days after a former Baltimore Ravens' cheerleader has come forward to dish about her experiences as a NFL cheerleader. Formerly, the consumer rarely had a glimpse into the lives of these men and women, as they are generally not permitted to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment contract with the team. However, now there is much that has been brought into the open, which could turn into trouble for some teams.

The former cheerleader talks about her wages as an employee of the team, or better, the lack thereof -- the Ravens' cheerleaders are paid $100 per game (in 2009, anyway). This payment is for at least an eight-hour workday, as each member must arrive to the game "at least five hours before kickoff." This is one area where the Ravens are likely to face legal battles, as the flat daily rate amounts to less than the federally mandated minimum wage.

She also goes on to complain about the way they are treated with regard to their weight and personal appearance. The contract permits the Ravens' management to disallow a member to participate in a game if their appearance is not acceptable. An unacceptable appearance could include a gain in weight, unkempt hair, visible tattoos, etc... If the cheerleader fails to comply, they lose their game-day payment for the week and can be subject to further disciplinary actions.

There is a copy of the Baltimore Ravens' Rules and Regulations floating around all over the internet. If you take the time to read over this contract, some of the specific rules and regulations lead your mind to believe that these men and women are being treated abrasively and forced to comply with a certain look. This is understandable from a branding standpoint, but the way it is written makes it feel very cold.

These cheerleaders are subject to some of the same mental abuse that a person in an abusive relationship is treated if you stop to think about it -- they have to wear what they are told, do their makeup and hair how they are told, only talk to certain "approved" people, etc... Then again, I suppose they know what they are getting into when they sign up, since it is in black and white right in front of them.

At any rate, and in addition to the above, being a cheerleader in the NFL is a scam in a number of ways. Here are the top five reasons.

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Beauty and Body Contest

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Straight from the rules and regulations comes the following quote: "YOUR APPEARANCE MUST BE IMPECCABLE AT ALL TIMES." In full caps and everything. Every new cheerleader is given a complimentary introductory hair and make-up consultation, and each cheerleader is subject to monthly or game-day "maintenance checks," which the cheerleader must pay for personally.

In addition, you'd better have a lovely tan. Cheerleaders are required to be tanned if they are fair-skinned. Further to the skin-tone requirement, cheerleaders should not have acne or any other skin-care problems. No visible tattoos, cuts, scars, bruises or the like can be visible while in uniform. You are expected to maintain an ideal body weight and can be subject to weigh-ins at any time.

Cheerleaders failing to adhere to the 11 specific points called out in the contract can be subject to dismissal from the team.

Sounds like a fun time.

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Not Every NFL Team has a Cheerleading Squad

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Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

That's right, there are six teams that have no official cheerleaders - the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, and the Chicago Bears. Why do these teams not have a sanctioned cheerleading squad? Maybe the teams have found there is no appreciable benefit to having them around? Maybe it's too cold in these cities in the winter months to safely have cheerleaders on the sideline? The Buffalo Bills have them, so that can't be the reason right?

Sidenote: the Buffalo Bills' cheerleaders are named the Buffalo Jills. That's very clever. You see what they did there? Genius.

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Cheerleaders Have to Buy Own Apparel

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, you read that correctly. Each cheerleader must front a $250 cash deposit to receive a stipulated list of loaned uniform items. Additionally, the cheerleaders must personally purchase cold gear, gloves, optional merchandise (I suppose it's a mandatory option?) and make-up/hair care products.

I have a question: isn't this the pros? You know, where the guys on the field are making a couple of million dollars each? Honestly, the team can't just pony up $1k to buy these men and women the apparel outright? What a joke. Busch league.

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Some Appearances are Not Reimbursed

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Per the contract, each squad member is expected to complete twenty appearances, charitable or otherwise. Generally speaking, it seems that the charitable appearances are unpaid, at least from the former Ravens cheerleader's account.

Basically, these people have to commit to two-3 hour practices per week, one 8-to-12-hour game-day appearance and then twenty appearances on top of that? Who really benefits financially from that arrangement? That's another big reason why this is a scam and a likely cause for cheerleaders to take legal action.

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You've Just Enslaved Yourself...

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

There are a couple quality ideas to cite here. First off, before you sign this contract, you simply have to accept the fact that your life is now essentially the property of the respective cheerleading squad -- the Ravens in this particular case. All appearances and promotional jobs that are requested of you by an outside source have to be approved by the team. The cheerleader is prohibited from discussing price, schedule and the like. The team sets the rates and probably takes more than a little off the top.

Additionally, you are now a social-media robot. You have to hand over all of your social-media information, which will be monitored by team representatives. You have to wear what they tell you to wear, when they tell you to where it. You have to be where they tell you to be, when they tell you to be there. You cannot say no. For your troubles, you are paid $100 per game, so long as you haven't violated a single rule along the way.


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