As someone who was a band geek, I have to say that I was one of those who looked down on cheerleaders—and vice-versa. I was envious of how pretty they were, envious of the attention they got, and I thought my own skills on musical instruments were More Important. You know, petty how teenagers are petty.
I was wrong, of course, and I’ve learned to really respect the very real skills that cheerleaders (and people doing physical things rather than cerebral skills) have.
All the impure thoughts I’ve had about cheerleaders or cheerleading over the years? I’m sorry. I was reacting in my teens based on my own hatred about society’s messages about cultural expectations about women, and not considering that maybe some women really enjoyed cheerleading. It should be fun and joyous.
And paid well.
The working conditions for NFL cheerleaders are horrific, especially when compared with the opportunities for men in the field. > But even as collective bargaining has caused players’ salaries to skyrocket, cheerleaders are still treated with the expendability of borrowed college students. Of the 26 teams that employ cheerleaders, only Seattle publicly advertises that it pays its squad an hourly minimum wage.
No one should have to endure such conditions.
The world is stranger—and far more horrible—than I give it credit for sometimes.
I know a lot of people who watch games specifically for the halftime segments, who love the cheerleaders, and they’re paid how much?
If you’d asked me how much I expected them to be paid, I’d probably have guessed the median full-time salary for women, which translates to $36,380 a year (using the lowest woman median from last year). I’d have considered that a bare minimum, especially given the amount of money teams rake in, and how cheerleaders are used to boost a team’s image.
And before you tell me that they only work part of the year, they work just as long (and just as hard) as the star athletes.
We simply don’t value their skills as much, mostly because it’s a glamour job done by women.
And that is truly unfortunate.
A lot of people have said they wouldn’t watch the Olympics because of Russia’s stance on LGBT issues.
It’s been really hard for me, and that’s why I’ve taken so long to write this. In general, I watch only the Olympics when it comes to sports. The last live sporting event I saw was the U.S. Figure Skating Championships when they were in San Jose a couple years back.
I remember being that horse-struck teenager who saved up money from an early job to get lessons from a really great dressage rider. I remember getting to ride an Olympic horse. He had quite the sense of humor, that one.
And I remember later figuring out that winter sports really were my thing even though I don’t particularly like being cold. And that I got in a lot of trouble (which I will write about later) for arranging things to usurp the last slot of a great ice dance teacher. She’d been the partner of a guy who tended to cut the balance a little close; her career had ended when his fall spiral fractured her leg. He later went on to skate in national and international competitions with a subsequent partner. She was stuck standing around in moon boots with people like me trying to do school figures. And stuff.
Sadly, that knee that gives me fits now? If only I’d known it was defective then. I competed on it, which no doubt helped a bunch. Not.
I’ve only ever seen one winter Olympics event live. I happened to have an interview with Alphasmart, who was looking for a Mac programmer. The first round of interviews had gone well. Could I go to the Salt Lake area for a final round? Sure. In February 2002? Absolutely.
Airline tickets for the Olympics were inobtanium at any kind of reasonable price, but I was going to get to go for free? Bonus.
So I asked them to fly me on the first flight out and the last flight back, which they did. I paid for the women’s hockey semifinals ticket. The US won against Sweden, 4-0.
I don’t know how many people I know have ever seriously studied an Olympic sport or ever seriously hoped to compete. I did. I have a clue how much work it is, and that’s why I feel it’s so disrespectful to all the athletes who put in such hard work for so many years to boycott the games — especially since some of them are LGBT.
So here’s my thought: I’m going to root for the countries who have great LGBT policies to win as many medals as possible. And let’s give an extra cheer for all the LGBT athletes, out or not, and hope they win something really special.
I wish it weren’t Russia and fucking Olympics politics again. In 1980, 65 countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics. What’s really struck me, though, is how much freer generally the people in the former Soviet Union are now than they were then—and that’s the other reason a boycott is difficult for me. I remember the stories about how difficult it was for artists, musicians, dancers, and athletes to travel back then.
A lot can change in 34 years, but a lot still has to, too.