You may have noticed or you may have missed it, but over the last year and change, there have been an increasing amount of lawsuits filed against NFL teams by their cheerleading squads. The role of the cheerleader in professional sports has always been one that’s apt for easy dismissal. Any comments section in any of the stories about these lawsuits runs the usual gamut: ‘eye candy’ is bandied about fairly often, as well as in the insinuation that ‘they knew what they were getting into,’ which is probably incorrect given the available information we have about the way the organizations paid their cheerleaders (very little) and what they demanded from them (much more than very little.)
The job, frankly, doesn’t seem as easy as it appears to be on the surface, a surface that shows a gig based on little more than good genes, a solid workout routine, and the ability to do things more or less at the same time as a handful of other people. It doesn’t count the hours of mandatory, unpaid appearances that are required by the cheerleaders, or the absurd restrictions on appearance, voiced opinion, and public discourse, all while being paid well below the minimum wage (allegedly.) There’s a point — not an entire argument — to be made about whether or not these cheerleaders signed up for this sort of thing or not, but it’s hardly the conversation ender that its supporters believe it to be.
So, without any more exposition, here are the five NFL teams that have been sued by members of their cheerleading staff. That’s almost a fifth of the league, so it’s not as if it can be chalked up to an isolated incident, especially when you read some of the teams’ guidelines for their cheerleaders (we’ve got them embedded where they’ve appeared publicly.)