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.
What I’d Have Expected Cheerleaders to Be Paid
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.