Many women dream of becoming one of the lucky few to become an NFL cheerleader. They think it’s a fun job that comes with fame, fans, and livening up games that can make you feel like a rock star. These women show off their great bodies at the games for fans who are excited to see them. NFL cheerleaders grow their own fan base, and they’re another great reason to go and see a game.
Most people assume that these gorgeous women have it made. After all, an NFL cheerleader must be treated like a Queen with great pay, great benefits, plenty of attention at the game, plus the hair and makeup perks. The people who assume that, though, couldn’t be more wrong. There’s a dark side to being an NFL cheerleader, and the powers that be are trying to keep those things on the down low.
You might think it’s cheerleaders just complaining, but some of their complaints are well founded, especially when it comes to what they’re paid. These women are hoping that being a cheerleader will get them a better opportunity, but they’re not having much fun in the process.
You might be shocked to find out what it’s really like to cheer for an NFL team. Cheerleaders aren’t treated like Queens; in fact, they’re treated like second-class citizens in often very demeaning ways. The next time that you wish you were a cheerleader of a popular team, think again. These NFL cheerleaders are confessing what really goes on behind the scenes.
15. They Make Next to Nothing
If you were to guess what an NFL cheerleader makes, would you assume they’re probably bringing in some big bucks? Yeah, we would too, but that’s not the case at all. It’s been confirmed that some cheerleaders are making between $2-4 an hour to cheer for the teams. Now, considering what players are paid, this is quite sickening. We’re not saying that a cheerleader should be paid what a player is by no means, but $2 an hour is obscene. These girls should at least be making a decent salary that they can live off. Some of the cheerleaders like the Tampa Buccaneers have even sued over their wage. Here’s a simple breakdown of some of the wages being offered by teams: The Raiderettes allege they were paid $5/hr, the Ben-Gals $2.85/hr, and the Flight Crew $3.77/hr. And yes, the names of these cheerleaders are just as bad as their wages.
14. Only Females Are Kept at Unrealistic Standards
There are cheerleaders, and then there are male stunt performers who are usually part of the dance team. When it comes to making weight and looking good, there are only rules for the women to look perfect at all times. The men have a choice whether they want to or not. So, the women sometimes deal with unrealistic expectations, while the men are given a pass. “If you deviate from the baseline, you can/will get benched, but only if you’re a female. Males are hardly kept to any standard unless they personally care,” stated a tipster. Not adhering to the weight rules outlined can have a cheerleader benched. This is right out of their rulebook: “Each cheerleader, male and female, is expected to maintain ideal body weight and physical look for the duration of your contract. Weigh-ins will be held at the discretion of the Ravens. a) Failure to comply with body weight and/or appearance guidelines could result in suspension from the team or gameday suspensions. b) 3 game misses due to physical appearance suspensions could result in dismissal from the team.”
13. Practice Time Comes Unpaid
It’s pretty insulting to have cheerleaders come in for regular practices and then not pay them for their time, especially since they obviously have to get a second job just to survive. We’re talking about an organization that makes a ton of money. You would think that they would take better care of these girls. When it comes to most jobs in the United States, you’re paid when you report for work for any reason, so why should this be any different? Practice days can take up to 6-15 hours out of a week, and that’s a lot of time to not get paid for something. What would you do if your boss told you that for 2-3 days of work, you wouldn’t get paid? Like most of us, you would probably lose your mind. We’re not sure how these ladies are making ends meet.
12. Demeaning Behavior Toward Cheerleaders
There are times when cheerleaders are required to attend events, another thing they’re paid for, but what they get in return is objectifying behavior. During a lawsuit against the NFL team Tampa Buccaneers, information was leaked about appearances at charity events where the girls were auctioned off. The information that was leaked regarding the Jills Annual Golf Tournament went as follows: “Select Jills were required to wear a bikini, and then go into a dunk tank, where they were dunked in water by the golf tournament participants. Jills cheerleaders are also ‘auctioned off’ like prizes at the event… While serving as a ‘bought person,’ they were subjected to additional demeaning treatment, including degrading sexual comments and inappropriate touching. Oftentimes, the Jills were forced to sit on participants’ laps because there [were] not enough seats in the golf carts.” That doesn’t sound like much fun for the ladies.
11. Don’t Consider It a Fulltime Gig
Like most people, we assumed that these girls were on a salary and that this was their fulltime gig. After all, between the games, practice, and charity events, these girls put in a lot of hours. Unfortunately, however, this isn’t a fulltime job for these girls; they’re still expected to find other work in order to pay their bills. In order to become a cheerleader, the competition is tough, and yet, once you get in there, you aren’t treated very well. Evony Thompson, a Tennessee Titans cheerleader, explained that the only benefit to not having a salary is that it’s easier to get a better job once your career with the NFL is over. So, they do what they have to in order to get through it in the hopes of making better connections — which sucks for them in the meantime.
10. Their Hair and Makeup Are Assessed
You would think that the team would set these girls up with free makeup and hair products to make up for the fact that they don’t make a lot of money, especially since their hair and makeup are assessed at the beginning of being hired, and they have to stay within certain cheerleader requirements. But, of course, that’s not the case. The NFL team does set them up with a trusted contact at a salon, but at best, the cheerleaders get a discount; their services are never free. That’s shocking since cheerleaders spend at least $1000 a year on hair and makeup just to maintain their appearance. Huge organizations should be taking care of their own, and if a girl is required to look a certain way, then the team should pay for her to look that way. It’s a wonder that these girls make any money at all.
9. Etiquette Guide That Warns About Getting Date-Raped
Yes, that’s right. There are actually etiquette guides out there that are warning cheerleaders to behave themselves at parties so they don’t get date-raped — by players, no less. It’s pretty bad when a team acknowledges that there are potential rapists on their team, but then, they blame rape on the cheerleaders if their behavior isn’t on point. “[W]e have [had] situations where, quite frankly, the Raider organization and the Raiderettes narrowly escaped ruined reputations. One such example concerns a player who gave Halloween parties every year, and many of the Raiderettes attended. This same player was suspended from the team for drug use but also arrested for date rape. For you on the squad who have attended those parties, just think how narrowly you missed having your photo in all the local papers and/or being assaulted” (Jezebel). What on earth is going on with these teams?
8. They Get Fined for Forgetting Items
If we had to guess, the players themselves probably aren’t getting fined if they forget their jerseys when they hit game day. In fact, they’re probably given a new one, for free, no questions asked. Cheerleaders don’t get that same consideration. You better hope you have your outfit, pom-poms, and the works when you show up for game day, or the team will smack you with a fine. It’s like these ladies aren’t even part of the NFL family the way they’re treated. We’re not sure what other teams do this, but the Raiderettes are charged $10 for forgotten items. Now, that might not seem like a lot of money, but considering everything else that we’ve discussed so far, these girls need all the money they can get. It should be the team’s responsibility to take care of their cheerleaders.
7. Dating Co-Workers Is a No-No
Just like any job, you often spend more time with your co-workers than anyone else. So, it can be hard not to be attracted or not to develop feelings for people you work around. When it comes to the NFL cheerleaders, it’s a big no-no to date any of their co-workers. This isn’t just about players getting involved with cheerleaders; even the mascot isn’t allowed to date a cheerleader. The teams just don’t want there to be a conflict of interest at any point, and that’s pretty much the same at most workplaces. We’re sure that it still happens sometimes, just like it does in most workplaces, but as long as they’re able to keep things secret, they won’t get into any trouble. We’re sure the last thing the cheerleaders want to do is affect their chances of keeping their job.
6. They Pay for Copies of Their Own Calendars
So, every year, the NFL teams get their sexy girls together and make a calendar. The calendars are then sold off, making the team a ton of money. Again, we would assume that these girls get free copies of their calendars, never mind getting paid for being the objects in the calendars. But again, we’d be wrong. A former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader explained that when the calendars are printed up, the girls are expected to purchase a certain number of calendars. It’s then up to them to try to sell the calendars so that they can get their money back on the calendars. Women have to buy 100 calendars, while the men only have to buy 20. The calendars are a whopping $12 each, and they’re then allowed to sell them for $15, making a measly $3 per calendar. These girls are just getting ripped off left and right.
5. Cheerleaders Need Permission to Book Other Gigs
We get it. Sometimes, allowing a cheerleader to go to an unrelated appearance can seem like a conflict of interest. Totally understandable, but under certain circumstances. If that’s the case, then NFL teams should be paying a suitable salary to these girls so that they don’t have to try to find other gigs. In our opinion, these girls must be starving to death and need all the extra gigs they can get. They shouldn’t require permission to book another job. It’s ridiculous. If they were considering doing p*rn or posing for Playboy, then yes, maybe they have to talk to the owners first, but for a regular gig somewhere else that brings them extra doe, they shouldn’t be required to ask for permission. Pay your cheerleaders better, and they wouldn’t need to book other gigs, but that seems to be a concept they just don’t get.
4. They Pay for Their Own Uniforms
This is just getting pathetic. Seriously, these girls have to pay for their own uniform. Does Burger King make employees purchase their uniforms? Because we can’t remember a time when that happened! So, why are the huge moneymakers charging for their uniforms? We’re not talking about $50 for a uniform either. These NFL uniforms are insanely expensive. These NFL uniforms cost these cheerleaders $650! Some of these girls are barely breaking making double that in a whole season. It’s absolutely insane that they’re being charged for their uniforms, especially at that cost. Are these girls just expected to make no money? What’s worse, some of the teams change their outfits regularly, which means that these girls are footing the bill every time. It’s really sad how these teams are treating their cheerleaders. They should be ashamed of themselves.
3. Gaining Weight Will Get You Benched
We mentioned before that the girls have to stay within a certain range of weight, or they’re benched until they get their act together. But one girl came onto the team underweight from the year before and then started gaining weight as the season went on. They benched her even though she complained that she still weighed less than she did the year before. The team also forces the girls to do a “jiggle test,” which consists of “doing jumping jacks while their stomachs, arms, legs, hips, and butts are scrutinized. They have to abide by an intensive, demanding 12-page “glamour manual” that instructs them on literally every aspect of grooming — including how to brush one’s teeth and how to use a tampon. “When menstruating, use a product that right [sic] for your menstrual flow. A tampon too big can irritate and develop fungus” (Jezebel).
2. They Aren’t Seen as Real People
These girls are definitely not being treated like respectable women. Between the charity events and the scantily clad outfits, it’s no wonder these girls are only seen as sex objects. We’re just surprised that the teams are treating them this way as well. Even if you’re used to seeing these girls at the game, they’re still real people when they get off the field. One cheerleader who used to work for the New Orleans Saints went on to have a position as a pharmacist. Everyone around her treated her like a local celebrity instead of a woman with a brain. She wanted to be known as more than just a hot body and a pretty face; she wanted to be known as a girl with value. But that wasn’t the reaction she was getting from the people around her. She found that men in her town tried to continually get close to her all the time.
1. Forced to Sit on Men’s Laps
Cheerleaders are required to do charity events and gigs that the teams set up. When it came to one particular cheerleader, Alyssa U, she had to attend a golf charity event and had to ride on the carts with clients. There are only so many seats on the carts, and if the seats were full, the girls had to sit on the laps of the men in the cart. Considering what these girls are wearing, it can be very uncomfortable for them to have to sit on strange men’s laps just to get a ride. These men are likely staring at the bodies and making comments. Some of the cheerleaders have been made to feel uncomfortable, but what could they even say? These types of events are more degrading than anything else, and it’s not exactly putting these girls in the best situations.