- Cheerleaders are a common sight in most NFL games, cheering on their teams from the sidelines and entertaining crowds during halftime.
- But recent reports of harassment, lack of compensation, and discrimination have shed some light on the treatment of cheerleaders in the NFL.
- Here’s what working as an NFL cheerleader is really like.
You’ve probably seen NFL cheerleaders on the sidelines, or maybe during halftime at NFL games. But have you ever wondered what their job is really like?
But to get a better idea of what the job is really like, Business Insider talked to four former NFL cheerleaders, who spoke candidly about the questions surrounding compensation, social media, and rules about interacting with players causing controversy throughout the league.
The women we talked to appear to have had overwhelmingly positive experiences during their time as cheerleaders.
Here’s what they said working as an NFL cheerleader is really like.
Most NFL teams have cheerleaders.
You see them on the sidelines during games and sometimes during halftime.
Looks like they’re having fun, right?
But recent reports of harassment, lack of compensation, and gender discrimination has shined a light on the treatment of cheerleaders in the NFL…
…leading us to wonder what being an NFL cheerleader is really like.
It all started back in 1954 when the Baltimore Colts became the first team to have cheerleaders.
Since then, getting a highly-coveted spot on the squad has become super competitive.
Every year, thousands of women audition for a spot on an NFL cheerleading squad.
Some make it…
…and many don’t.
A spot on the squad is a paid position and is officially considered to be part-time.
And each NFL team gets to decide how much its cheerleaders are paid and what kind of guidelines and rules they must follow.
Not only do the cheerleaders have to be on-hand for each game…
…they also have to show up for mandatory appearances and practices.
Source: Business Insider
But as it turns out, they’re not always getting properly compensated for their time and effort.
In 2014, the Oakland Raiders paid a $1.25 million dollar settlement to former cheerleaders after a class action lawsuit alleging wage theft.
Source: CBS Sports
Cheerleaders with the Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the New York Jets have also brought wage lawsuits against their teams.
Source: The New York Times
Some Cheerleaders in the NFL reportedly make between $75 and $150 a game and $50 an hour for special appearances, but the pay is not standardized across the industry.
Sharon Vinick, an attorney who worked on the 2014 class action lawsuit against the Raiders, said women felt intimidated to speak up for themselves.
“The women are told that they’re really, really fortunate to be dancing, and if they don’t want to dance, they don’t have to,” Vinick told Business Insider.
“But compare that to the guys who are the quarterbacks. I mean, they’re very lucky to be quarterbacks, but they’re still paid millions of dollars,” she said.
Twin sisters Dresdynn and Schuyler Warnell, who both cheered for the Houston Texans from 2010 to 2014, said they were paid about $200 a game, plus compensation for travel expenses, practices, and appearances.
They said overall they had a positive experience while on the Texans squad.
But their pay is more than the $1,250 Oakland Raider cheerleaders, known as Raiderettes, made a season.
For comparison, Vinick said reports suggest that mascots make an estimated $40,000 to $60,000 per season, plus benefits.
And the least-played NFL team member, or a “benchwarmer” who doesn’t play in games, gets paid $100,000.
“$1,250 is less money than someone who’s selling hot dogs in the stands gets paid,” Vinick said.
It’s definitely not a salary you can live off of, said Jennifer Omohundro who cheered for the Tennessee Titans before joining the Atlanta Falcons in the early 2000s.
She said what she made was “definitely minimal,” but despite the low pay, cheering was “a wonderful experience” for her.
The same goes for Rachel Swartz, who cheered for the Philadelphia Eagles for the 2015 and 2016 seasons and found the experience to be “empowering.”
“It is really unfortunate to hear a lot of the other stories about women who have not had the same positive experience I had,” Swartz said.
NFL cheerleading squads also have a number of rules to follow.
Strict social media restrictions are some of them.
So strict, in fact, that a former New Orleans Saints cheerleader was fired over an Instagram photo of her wearing a one-piece outfit.
Source: Business Insider
She’s now suing for discrimination, claiming that the male football players in the NFL aren’t held to the same standards that the female cheerleaders are.
Source: Business Insider
Swartz said she and her fellow Eagles cheerleaders did not have Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook accounts. “We weren’t allowed to have any of those, and that was mainly for our protection,” she said.
While the no social media rule is common, some teams, like the Denver Broncos, allow their cheerleaders to post from social media accounts officially affiliated with the team.
One of the most common rules for NFL cheerleaders is that interaction with players is strictly prohibited, and violation of this rule can result in immediate termination.
“Even though they run past us on the field, sometimes that would be the only time we were really around them,” Omohundro said. “I mean, they’re professionals, they’re doing their thing as athletes, and we were doing ours.”
But off the field, the cheerleaders are required to maintain their distance from players.
“They would even go as far as saying if, say, you’re at a restaurant and a couple of the players come in, we would have to leave because they don’t even want us in the same room,” Dresdynn Warnell said.
Source: The New York Times
“We will get fired and they won’t,” said Schuyler Warnell.
Some NFL cheerleaders said they were held to strict weight standards as well. Some said they were made to jump to see if their flesh jiggled or suspended if they were ever more than three pounds outside of their ideal weight.
One former Houston Texans cheerleader sued the team after she said her coach called her “skinny fat” and duct taped parts of her skin during games to make her body appear firmer.
Rosa is involved in two lawsuits that also include claims that Houston Texans cheerleaders were not being paid minimum wage or overtime. Gary has since resigned.
In addition to making appearances, cheerleaders are sometimes expected to interact with fans at games…
…which can sometimes include unsavory encounters.
Source: The New York Times
Overall, the cheerleaders Business Insider spoke to said their teams did a good job of making sure they felt safe.
And, overall, the women we talked to seemed to have experiences that were overwhelmingly positive. “I really felt empowered by the entire experience,” Swartz said.
But every team is different, and only time will tell if the ones under scrutiny will actually change for the better.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
Get breaking news on your Mobile as-it-happens. SMS ‘NEWS’ to 20153
With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.