cheerleaders

Cheerleaders and dancers alike can all agree that performing for the NFL is a very prestigious and exciting career. Most are in their 20s to early 30s and are quite talented. It’s also no secret that these hard-working football beauties tend to be easy on the eyes. But there’s another unfortunate reality we think is important to talk about: there are some “cheerleaders” whose only job is to look good.

From a business standpoint, it (unfortunately) can be argued that it makes some sense. The NFL has a busy season, and while their dance teams are out, well, cheering, having another group of beautiful and charismatic women out and about as a marketing tool. Some teams, such as the Baltimore Ravens, are very open about the existence of their so called “Playmakers,” or “marketing team.” Others teams - such as The Texans, the New England Patriots, the New Orleans Saints and the Washington Redskins- are less transparent. According to a recent article in the New York Times, these teams group the “marketing teams” with the cheer team in their promotional materials. However, this can be deceptive, because there are important differences between these groups. The model group does not dance, and they are allegedly charged with tasks such as talking to the well-to-do team sponsors who sit in the fancy membership boxes. They are usually low-paid, and some have recently put forth claims of sexual harassment and mistreatment.

So they don’t get to join the other girls on the field, and while they have the title of cheerleader, most of these girls are not dancers by any means. It must be difficult to feel that you have been hired into an important organization solely because of your looks - one former employee of the Redskins, compared it to feeling like cattle. Lawsuits and legal complaints have been filed, and we’ll be waiting to see how these claims go down, and hopefully make an impact on the practice in the future. What are your thoughts on this complicated and controversial topic?

About the author

Keira Whitaker is a dedicated teacher, performer, and choreographer, who has been dancing for the past 21 years. She recently graduated from the University of California Irvine with a BFA in Dance performance and a minor in English.