While in recent months and years it has become more and more clear how badly NFL cheerleaders are treated by teams, New York Times reporter Juliet Macur continues to show just how bad things are.
On Thursday, the Times published Macur’s latest story on the cheerleaders’ frequent side with a little-known category of women: “alternative” cheerleaders, who are effectively team ambassadors clad in scantily clad -game days.
What are alternate cheerleaders?
By definition, a cheerleader dances and sings in support of a team; in the NFL, that means being on the field during the game, performing during timeouts and after touchdowns. See the article : Xbox Ultimate add-on sale includes Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty and more.
It also means that if they are on the field, there – gasp! – no one for the fans in the suites to juggle and leer closely during the game.
Washington is one of several NFL teams that uses alternate cheerleaders, or ambassadors, to mingle with customers or convince deep-pocketed fans to get luxury suites. (AP)
So some NFL teams have created a secondary group of women for that purpose, those who don’t have to have the dancing talent of cheerleaders, but are scantily clad models to mingle with deep-pocketed male clients, often twisted.
Macur interviewed a dozen women who worked as non-cheerleaders and half a dozen others with knowledge of these groups, and they described jobs with low wages and high incidences of harassment and teasing.
‘Alternates’ are meant to blend in
The substitute cheerleaders are almost always dressed the same as the cheerleaders on the field; they are not supposed to give the impression that they are not cheerleaders. This may interest you : Quotebook Notebook: Fletcher Cox’s eye returns to Pro Bowl form.
“It’s a really big secret, and now you know about it,” said Jackie Chambers, a model who was part of the Houston Texans non-cheer group last year. “But the teams don’t want the fans to know about it. All cheerleaders are supposed to stick together.”
The Texans, Washington, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints are among the teams that have alternative cheerleaders.
In the case of the Patriots, the team auditions for promotional cheerleader models; while they don’t dance, the two groups of women are grouped together, and models and cheerleaders are both part of the team’s annual calendar.
Washington uses its “cheerleader ambassadors” in promotional materials designed to convince fans to invest in a luxury suite. In the team’s online suite sales video, there are photos of suite holders posing with cheerleader ambassadors; at another point in the video a voice says, “membership has its privileges,” as a bikini-clad woman appears on the screen.
The Baltimore Ravens are not secretive about their non-cheerleading group, and they call them the Playmakers and treat them like marketers – but businessmen whose job application demands bust size.
Poor treatment for cheerleaders and non-cheerleaders
Earlier this month, Macur detailed a trip the Washington cheerleaders took to Costa Rica in 2013 for a swimsuit calendar shoot in which the women described the surprising presence — and unwanted – of male sponsors during a photo shoot in which they were required to be topless. This may interest you : “I need Thunder!” Erin Andrews As A Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader?. Team officials took the women’s passports upon arrival at the resort, and later in the trip, the women were selected as “personal escorts” for a trip to a nightclub with sponsors.
For women who are not official cheerleaders, the treatment is not much better.
Six women who were ambassadors for Washington described the gig as sex vendors. Some had to go to team tailgate parties, where attendees were encouraged to drink, and men would grab them and hug them or make inappropriate comments.
“The Redskins wanted to come up with extra ways to make money, so they dreamed up the ambassador idea,” said one woman who worked as an ambassador. “We were made to look almost exactly like the cheerleaders, but we were not a member of that society. We didn’t get the perks of dancing. We were just low paid, undervalued, exploited money grabbers in a huge money making scheme.”
“We used to wear low tops with cutouts and your butt cheeks would be sticking out the back. That’s how they sell the suites,” she added.
Dennis Greene, who was Washington’s longtime head of business operations (he was replaced recently) and remains in charge of hospitality and suites, treated women like cattle, they said. Greene had the women line up to examine them, then chose two to work with him in the games, visiting suites.
“He would look each of us up and down and say, I want this and that, and everyone hated it when you were singled out for that,” said a former ambassador. “It was humiliating.”
Washington convinced the women who were not selected as cheerleaders to accept the role of ambassador as a way to prepare for next year’s auditions and get into the good graces of the director of the cheerleading team Stephanie Jojokian.
They were encouraged to take classes at Jojokian’s dance company, the Capitol Movement, or to either donate to the nonprofit or attend a fundraiser, and directed to the hair salon and the tanning that the groups sponsored, where they got the look that the team wanted.
Another former ambassador in Washington said: “It was like, if you want to make the cheerleading team, you better do all these things, and that included going to parties where there was a lot of drinking and there were definitely ambassadors under age. It might not be the best experience for women, but you just shut up and do it because you want to be a cheerleader.”
Despite the degrading conditions, the women focused on what they enjoyed: cheering on the sidelines, in front of the crowds. Many women did not give their names to Macur’s story because of confidentiality agreements signed with the clubs.
Lots of requirements, little respect
Chambers had no dance experience when she was chosen as the Texans’ “appearance-only cheerleader,” and believed she would be doing some good, such as visiting with military members or attending events with children.
As the team earned thousands per event and per cheerleader, the women themselves were required to work at least 50 promotional events a year and earn just $7.25 an hour.
Chambers said that the team’s coach, Alto Gary, was verbally and emotionally abusive towards the women, which was confirmed by three other members. Their contract forbade “arguing or showing disrespect” to Gary, who Chambers said used thick tape to bind a woman’s midsection before one game, making it appear flatter under her costume.
Chambers often had to go to the stands for gifts, and once a man ran his hands on her thighs. She told team officials and the police, but nothing was done about the incident.
Earlier this month, three of Chambers’ former teammates filed a class action lawsuit against the Texans and Gary; Chambers will join the suit if it is certified.
And here’s a kicker: Last month, at the team’s year-end meeting, Chambers said the women were given Starbucks gift cards as a token of appreciation.
When Chambers went to use her card, the barista handed it back to her, saying she had a zero balance. Some women had $5 on their cards.
“We all said, wow, the Texans must really appreciate us,” Chambers said. “We were laughing, but we were crying.”
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What are the perks of being a NFL cheerleader?
While perks vary from squad to squad, many cheerleaders enjoy the services of fitness gyms, spas, travel and other freebies. However, perhaps the biggest advantage of all is having the career-launching power of being an NFL cheerleader on your resume.
What’s the point of being an NFL cheerleader? Cheerleaders are a popular attraction that can give the team more coverage/airtime, popular local support, and a bigger media image. In 1954, the Baltimore Colts became the first NFL team to have cheerleaders. They were part of the Marching Colts of Baltimore. Most NFL cheerleading squads are part-time jobs.
How much does a NFL Waterboy make?
On average, NFL waterboys make $53,000 a year (according to Stack.com). However, that’s just the salary for starters. For professionals, their salary can be as high as any other highest paid NFL waterboy.