Inside the NFL cheerleaders’ fight for fair pay

Lacy Thibodeaux, the former quarterback of the Oakland Raiders, took the NFL to court after realizing that his employment contract contained illegal terms that deprived him of his salary.

Yu Gu

NFL cheerleaders have been underpaid for decades, sometimes earning as little as $5 an hour — well below the minimum wage — while the players they root for earn millions. That is starting to change, thanks to a series of lawsuits brought by cheerleaders in recent years. So far, 10 of the 26 NFL teams with cheerleaders have been accused of wage theft, unsafe working conditions, sexual harassment and discrimination.

A new documentary, “A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem,” sheds light on the lives of the women who inspired that change: Lacy Thibodeaux Fields, a former Oakland Raiders cheerleader, and Maria Pinzone, a former club supporter. Buffalo Bills.

The film, which premiered on PBS on January 4, details the long, often unpaid hours cheerleaders were required to practice and sponsor events, and the costs they were expected to incur. they accept including transportation to the games and hair and makeup for the official. photos.

The film’s director, Yu Gu, told Marketplace’s Andy Uhler that these practices are not only illegal — they’re part of a larger problem with professional sports that marginalize women’s careers and exacerbate the gender pay gap. .

“I think it’s a shame that the role of the professional league [cheerleaders] has decreased so much and it hasn’t been able to change. And part of that is because of gender inequality; because they don’t have power in their job, ” said Gu.

The following is an edited transcript of Gu and Uhler’s interview.

Andy Uhler: It’s hard to believe that the NFL has managed to pay these viewers for so long. I wonder, how did this happen? Was he just kind of flying under the radar? What was happening?

Yu Gu: Yes, I think that in the beginning, [cheerleading] was given to these women as a way for them to show their talent, and somehow they volunteered to be there to perform. And over the years, as the NFL has grown into this multi-billion dollar industry, that original thinking hasn’t really changed much. So now these women in the film, I’m the first women to stand up and say, “No, this is not right and we need to do something about it.”

Uhler: And some of this has to do with the fact that the teams, not the NFL itself, pay the sponsors. I’m curious how the NFL and its Commissioner Roger Goodell rationalized it.

Gu: I think Roger Goodell was on the public record at the press conference, he said that he encourages each team to pay every employee fairly, but really it is the responsibility of each team, each organization and the other, to pay their workers. And that’s kind of an explanation. But at the same time, these women, they are NFL cheerleaders; they are being sold by the NFL on their website. So it’s actually part of this system that makes the NFL and their teams earn money.

Uhler: There’s an important gender component here, isn’t there? There is absolutely wage discrimination, but also the way we treat these women is an addition to what these men are doing out there on the field. That is an important part of the story you are trying to tell.

Gu: Yes, also, I think from the beginning of cheerleading in the professional league and the NFL, it was seen as a kind of supplement. But since then decades later, you see the development of high school and college cheerleading, and it’s become its own thing. Men and women are passionate about cheer, about cheerleading. It’s a game; they are athletes as well as talented dancers and actors. So it’s really changed a lot, and I think it’s a shame that in professional groups their role has been reduced a lot and it hasn’t been able to change. And part of that is because of gender inequality; because they have no power in their work.

A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem premieres on Independent Lens on PBS on Monday, January 4 at 10 p.m. ET (see local listings).

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Why are Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders paid so little?

Most NFL cheerleading squads are part-time. Often, cheerleaders have graduated from or are entering university, and move on to other careers after cheering for one to four years. This may interest you : PHOTOS | 11th day | Training camp 2022. Members participate in activities, training camps, games, appearances, photos, and charity events.

Why do NFL cheerleaders get paid so little? Technically the reason for this is because cheerleaders for the NFL, and the NBA for that matter, are independent contractors. This means that teams do not need to pay cheerleaders salaries according to state and federal minimum wages.

Why are Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders such a big deal? The cheer team became America’s sweethearts, a Texas hybrid of athletic beauty, girly fashion, and come here. They brought sex and glamor to the NFL, as well as controversy that continues to this day.

How much does a Dallas Cowboy fan get paid? For example, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, aka America’s Sweethearts, who happen to be one of the most popular teams in the NFL, earn about $15-20 an hour, or $500 per game. Therefore, their annual salary comes out to $75,000.

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How much does the highest paid NFL cheerleader make?

How much do you have to be to be a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader? We have NO special height and weight requirements. To see also : Eagles fired for training camp. Are there age requirements? You must be at least 18 years old at the time of the first test.

Some NFL teams make their cheerleaders pay for rechecks. However, professional or highly experienced cheerleaders are reported to make as much as $75,000 per season.

How much does a pro NFL cheerleader make? According to various reports, an NFL cheerleader can earn about $75,000 a year. But a supporting cheerleader is only paid around $20,000 a year.

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