Football is the most-watched sport in the US, but many fans are oblivious to the insanely sexist rules NFL cheerleaders have to follow. While these cheerleaders appear on the sidelines and on TV during every football game, none of them are as universally known as the likes of Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. And so, the stories of the demeaning and illegal conditions the cheerleaders endure remain fairly unreported. More damning than just stories of these sexist mandates is the fact that many NFL cheerleading teams' handbooks have been made public, giving specific insight to ways in which the cheerleaders are expected to behave and appear. Of course, the NFL has been on the wrong side of media reports on more than one occasion, as there have been many stories on the dark side of the Super Bowl, including reported spikes in DUIs, drug use, and prostitution.
While some of the cheerleaders may have a front row seat to the most exiting football games known to man and the greatest Super Bowl shows of all time, it isn’t enough to compensate for the humiliating and sexist ways in which they are treated.
Handbooks Warn Cheerleaders To Avoid Assault And Rape, As It May Ruin Their Reputation
Across the board, handbooks discourage cheerleaders from fraternizing with football players. However, the Raiderette’s handbook takes it one step further by explaining:
“There have been a few relationships between the two groups that have resulted in a few happy marriages and lovely children. However, we have also had more situations where, quite frankly, the Raider organization and the Raiderettes narrowly escaped ruined reputations.
One such example concerns a player who gave Halloween parties every year and many of the Raiderettes attended. The same player was suspended from the team for drug use, but also arrested for date rape. For you on the squad who have attended those parties, just think how narrowly you missed having your photo in all the local papers and/or being assaulted!”
The handbook basically discourages cheerleaders from socializing with players because they could be assaulted and/or raped, thus ruining their reputation. The logic is obviously very backwards and very dated.Is this ridiculous?
The Cheerleaders Are Required To Buy The Team Calendar And Then Sell It For Profit
One of the strangest revelations about how cheerleaders are treated involves the annual calendar. The Ravens cheerleading team is the only co-ed team in the league. While all the female cheerleaders appear in the calendar, the male cheerleaders do not. However, the male cheerleaders are welcome to attend the swimsuit shoot if they pay their own way, which many of them do since it's basically a vacation.
When the calendars are printed, cheerleaders are required to by them. The female cheerleaders must purchase 100, while the male cheerleaders are only required to purchase 20. Bought at $12 apiece, the cheerleaders then sell the calendars for $15 apiece to turn a profit. This is much like the Mary Kay or LuLaRoe business scheme, with the added twist that the women have to sell five times as many calendars as the men.Is this ridiculous?
There Are Extremely Detailed Instructions On Physical Appearance
It seems every cheerleading team’s handbook provides some serious instructions about their physical appearance. The handbook for the Ben-Gals states, “Stay away from frosted lipsticks and eye shadows. Management will determine your proper color analysis." It also adds, "Glamour is a priority!"
The Buffalo Bills cheerleading team – named the Buffalo Jills – are instructed that their nails “must be maintained with a French manicure or natural polish.” The Buffalo Jills are also instructed that, “A full curled or slightly bent, free-flowing style is required. Short hair must be worn full and fabulous!”
The Raven’s cheerleaders are told they “must have a warm skin color tone for every gameday.” In order to achieve this look, tanning vouchers, along with gym memberships and teeth whitenings are given to the cheerleaders. The only catch is that there are a limited number, so these perks go to senior cheerleaders. Newbies who don’t receive discounted for free tanning appointments or teeth whitenings are expect to get these services and pay for it out of their own pocket.Is this ridiculous?
The Cheerleaders Are Never Off The Clock, Even When They Are Going To Sleep
For NFL cheerleaders, there is no such thing as off the clock. One handbook actually reads:
“Even when you are not working in your capacity as a Raiderette, you are still representing the Oakland Raiders. It is imperative that whenever you leave your home you look 'put-together' so when someone recognizes you (and they will) they can say, 'Raiderettes always look fabulous.' We’ve all seen the stars in the tabloids that don’t look their best. Cell phone cameras are everywhere — be camera-ready!”
So, cheerleaders have to be camera-ready literally all the time. On top of that, some handbooks mandate that all cheerleaders wash off their makeup before bed.This is recommended by pretty much all dermatologists, but putting it in a handbook makes it part of the job, which is invasive.Is this ridiculous?