Cheerleaders underpaid and underappreciated

By Jodi Sterling
New York, N.Y. 

When I went to my first football game last week at the Meadowlands, it wasn’t the quarterback rivalries or the roaring crowds that captured my attention. It was the New York Jets Flight Crew cheerleaders.

Their outfits reminded me of the waitress uniforms at Hooters. Well, just with less clothing.

The women wore a white sports bra that contained a long v-neck revealing a golden bra — and cleavage, of course.

Their bras consisted of a green collar illuminated with bright gold studs. To match, they wore white mini-skirts (luckily with shorts underneath) with the Jets logo centered at the waist. Last but not least, they had white knee-high, heeled boots.

Most of the girls had Barbie doll-like figures, wore heavy make-up, and sported long curled hair.

And these girls were working hard.

With the exception of a break after half-time, the cheerleaders danced non-stop for three hours, and they barely appeared on camera. I found myself wondering why these women were willing to appear in public half-naked and dance in front of an audience of thousands. The money?

According to The New Republic, a lawsuit filed by cheerleaders from four National Football League teams said that Jets cheerleaders only make $150 per game.

And a cheerleader’s duties are not limited to appearing at games. They are required to attend all the rehearsals, make promotional appearances and get to home games entirely on their own. Those additional responsibilities mean that they make only about two dollars per hour, the lawsuit alleges.

They also are subject to some serious rules and regulations.

For example, the rulebook for the Buffalo Bills’ cheerleaders includes a “glamour requirement section” which involves 17 rules for “general hygiene and lady body maintenance,” according to a report from the radio program This American Life.

Meanwhile, cheerleaders make a lot of money for their teams. The Flight Crew contributes significant sums to the Jets’ coffers each year from calendar sales and public appearances.

And many Jets players make millions.

I understand that no one is forcing these cheerleaders to don their bras and skirts. But aren’t they entitled to more moola for all the hard work they put in?

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