In the first month of the NFL season, much attention is being brought to the domestic violence issues going on around the league. But there is another issue going on inside the league that many people aren’t aware of. This issue is the unfair payment of cheerleaders in the NFL, which has ultimately led to a lawsuit by several teams.
Back in January of this year, five former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders sued their former team over unfair payment claiming that they were working for hundreds of hours for free during games. Three months later in April, the Oakland Raiders’ cheerleaders sued their team for unfair payment. They claim that they only received $1,250 a year and didn’t receive this money until the end of the season. For being that there are seventeen games in an NFL season, this is a very low wage. Cheerleaders from the Cincinnati Bengals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the New York Jets have also sued for similar reasons.
The cheerleaders in the NFL do many things outside of games and practices that they are paid very little for, if at all. On average, including practices, games, and public appearances, NFL cheerleaders work about 20 hours a week. NFL players on average practice two to three hours a day for five days a week. This is around ten to fifteen hours a week which is less than the cheerleaders.
Fellow cheerleaders, whether in the NFL or in college or high school, also feel that NFL cheerleaders are being paid unfairly. When asked why she thought NFL cheerleaders were being paid unpaid fairly, Rock Island High School varsity cheerleader Shauntrice Gamble said, “I think it’s because they aren’t actually part of the game. They play a role in games but not a huge role.”
Not only cheerleaders believe NFL cheerleaders should be paid more. Some fans do as well. “Cheerleaders are known for their ability to pump the crowd up, which can help a team perform better by feeding off the crowd’s energy,” said avid football spectator Tyler Foulks. “This can play a huge role in games and they aren’t paid nearly enough for it.”
Five teams in the NFL have been sued by either former or current cheerleaders for unfair payment this year alone which means that this issue could only keep growing. And with all of the domestic violence issues already going on around the league, the last thing the NFL needs is another big problem.
(Written by guest contributor Tairik O’Leary.)