Will cheer for spare change

The unlivable salary of NFL cheerleaders

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MCT Photo

Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders perform at half-time. Cheerleaders are the lowest paid employees of the NFL. Mascots and concession workers both earn more than minimum wage.

Claire Lefton, A&E Chief

Cheerleaders are a vital part of sporting events. Their undying spirit pumps up the crowd and makes fans more enthusiastic. Unfortunately, cheerleaders for the National Football League (NFL) are not paid a living wage.

For example, the Cincinnati Ben-Gals cheerleaders received only $45 per game. When hours of unpaid practice time are included, this leaves their salary well below minimum wage.

Sports writer Howard Bloom wrote on sportingnews.com, “It seems almost morally reprehensible that the NFL is allowed to treat cheerleaders as badly as they have, while simultaneously trying to sell a message of inclusion for women fans.”

Some cheerleaders have taken their complaints to court like the Oakland Raiderettes who sued the Raiders in September and won with a $1.25 million settlement.

The Raiderette who helped file the suit, Lacy S., told the International Business Times, “It wasn’t millions of dollars. I wasn’t saying we deserve what the players deserve. It was all about fair pay, and I have absolutely no regrets.”

Lawsuits are not the only course of action being  taken. Currently, there is a petition growing in popularity to enforce the NFL to pay the cheerleaders a living wage. Even with public support, court action has made the biggest difference.

Lacy told CBS Sports, “I feel a sense of satisfaction knowing this long journey is over and will end happily for 90 women… we’re low-wage workers working for a billion-dollar industry.”

In addition to the Raiderettes, the Buffalo Jills and Ben-Gals have taken their disputes to court and won. Paying the cheerleaders fairly would be an excellent step for the NFL to take in its progression toward gender equality.