All The Sexist Rules NFL Cheerleaders Have To Follow

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Vote up the most ridiculous rules for NFL cheerleaders.

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.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY)

  • 1
    40,549 VOTES

    Cheerleaders Were Forced On A Weekend Long "Photo Shoot" That Required Them To Pose Topless And Act As Escorts

    In 2013, the Washington Redskins required their cheerleaders to take a trip to Costa Rica purportedly for a photo shoot. As soon as the cheerleaders arrived, officials collected their passports, making it effectively impossible for the cheerleaders to leave on their own accord. They were then told they had to participate in a 14-hour calendar photo shoot that included mandatory nudity. Male representatives from various Redskins sponsors were allowed to view the shoot up close.

    After the shoot, officials gave nine of the cheerleaders a "special assignment." They were essentially forced to act as escorts to a nightclub for several of the male sponsors. Despite the fact several of the chosen women began crying, they were forced to go through with the task for the sake of keeping their job. While the cheerleaders were not forced to have sex, they all felt incredibly disrespected and uncomfortable with the situation. 

    40,549 votes
  • 2
    38,799 VOTES

    After Following All Of These Rules, Cheerleaders Are Compensated With As Little As $5 Per Hour

    After Following All Of These Rules, Cheerleaders Are Compensated With As Little As $5 Per Hour
    Photo: Tony R. Tolley, U.S. Air Force / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The reason many lawsuits are brought against specific franchises is because the cheerleaders make so little that it is illegal. In some reported cases, cheerleaders make as little as $5 per hour. Teams have seemingly gotten away with his practice by paying cheerleaders per event. Cheerleaders will make somewhere between $90 - $125 for appearing at a football game. Cheerleaders will also make money for paid events, though they are required to also attend charity events for which they aren’t compensated.

    On top of that, cheerleaders are often fined for sexist reasons. One team installed "2 Piece Tuesdays," during which all cheerleaders must show their belly button at Tuesday practices. The handbook explains:

    “You must wear a 2 piece outfit consisting of a sports bra-type top and shorts. The top must fit like a sports bra to reveal the body from under the bust line and form-fitting shorts (not jazz pants rolled up, basketball shorts, cutoff sweats or colored tights under the shorts) worn to reveal your belly button. Failure to do so results in a $10 fine.”

    With the abysmal base pay and the additional fines, cheerleaders can walk away with just a $1,250 check for the entire season. In comparison, mascots make somewhere between $25,000 and $60,000 per year. When also considering there are estimates that cheerleaders bring in as much as $1 million in profit for their teams, it’s clear that cheerleaders are getting a raw deal.

    38,799 votes
  • 3
    32,927 VOTES

    Cheerleaders Are Required To Attend Events In Which They Wear Bikinis And Are Auctioned Off

    Cheerleaders Are Required To Attend Events In Which They Wear Bikinis And Are Auctioned Off
    Photo: PHAN Michael Patterson / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The lawsuit brought by the Buffalo Jills detailed a specific golf tournament that was pretty problematic. At the Jills Annual Golf Tournament, certain cheerleaders were required to wear bikinis and sit in a dunk tank, where participants could then dunk them. Other cheerleaders were auctioned off to the highest bidder, at which point they had to escort the winner around. Cheerleaders reported that the auction winners said sexual comments and touched them inappropriately. Cheerleaders were also forced to sit on the laps of golfers, as there was not enough room in the golf carts.

    While this may have been a one-time event that was mishandled, it goes to show much demeaning and sexist behavior with which cheerleaders had to put up.

    32,927 votes
  • 4
    32,572 VOTES

    They Are Put Through A 'Jiggle Test' Before Games

    They Are Put Through A 'Jiggle Test' Before Games
    Photo: Mike Turner / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    All of the cheerleading teams seem to dictate that the cheerleaders's bodies look a certain way, but all teams have different ways of measuring this. The Buffalo Jills method of making sure their cheerleaders had the ideal body type included subjecting cheerleaders to weekly "jiggle tests." During these “physique evaluations,” cheerleaders did jumping jacks while coaches judged their stomachs, butts, and limbs based on how much they jiggled. This jiggle test would determine whether each cheerleader was fit enough to appear at the upcoming football game. Cheerleaders who were deemed too jiggly failed the jiggle test and were benched for the game, suspended, and even dismissed.

    32,572 votes
  • 5
    29,671 VOTES

    'Slouching Breasts' And Wearing Underwear Are Forbidden

    'Slouching Breasts' And Wearing Underwear Are Forbidden
    Photo: Doug Wertman / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader Alexa Brenneman filed a class-action lawsuit against the franchise for violating employment laws. Because of the case, the handbook for Ben-Gal Cheerleaders was made public, revealing shockingly specific instructions. One such instruction was, “No panties are to be worn under practice clothes or uniform, not even thong panties.” This rule seems extremely intrusive, and even more so because the athletic benefit of being panty-free remains to be seen.

    While Ben-Gals are instructed to go without underwear, the handbook dictated that bras are a must. It states, “No slouching breasts. Support as needed. Black or nude seamless bra mandatory for games. No lace.” The handbook goes on to dictate that cheerleaders wear pantyhose, but not of the control top variety.

    29,671 votes
  • 6
    25,844 VOTES

    The Rulebooks Reminds The Cheerleaders Just How Unimportant They Are, Despite All The Hoops They Have To Jump Through

    The Rulebooks Reminds The Cheerleaders Just How Unimportant They Are, Despite All The Hoops They Have To Jump Through
    Photo: Lance Cpl. Robert C. Medina / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Likely to avoid lawsuits, handbooks remind cheerleaders just how unimportant and expendable they are. This way, cheerleaders will be discouraged from asking for raises, demanding better conditions, or taking legal actions, as they are aware that the franchise doesn’t need them. One handbook reads:

    “Remember, as important as you are to our organization, football is the name of the game. Fans would come to see the games whether or not we had cheerleaders. There are some great teams who do not have cheerleaders, such as the 2010 Champion Green Bay Packers. They are sold out every Sunday. Some teams who previously had cheerleaders do not now have them (Chicago Bears). Because of morality problems with their squads they decided cheerleaders were too much trouble to deal with.”

    What’s odd is that these handbooks ask for endless commitment from the cheerleaders, then also tell the cheerleaders they aren’t important to the franchise.

    25,844 votes