Being an NFL Cheerleader Sucks — Here’s Why…

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
Photo Credit: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Think about it, cheerleaders have a pretty sweet gig. They get free entry to NFL games, and all they have to do is shake their pom poms to a few cheesy Pitbull songs during commercial breaks. Pretty sweet deal, right…? Don’t believe the hype, being an NFL cheerleader sucks!

How Much Do Cheerleaders Make?

Cheerleaders in the National Football League are paid less than (almost) everyone connected to the game. Some are paid less than minimum wage (yikes!). In a $10 billion industry where the minimum salary for a rookie player is $390,000, cheerleaders are making peanuts. Let’s be honest, in most cases, cheerleaders are probably making less money than the dudes selling peanuts!

Each NFL team pays their cheerleaders different amounts. Most teams pay a flat per-game rate. The San Diego Chargers pay $75 per home game, the Baltimore Ravens pay $100, the Oakland Raiders pay $125 per game, and the Dallas Cowboys pay $150. I guess everything really is bigger in Texas…

What Else? 

In addition to the mandatory practice sessions throughout the week, cheerleaders are required to attend photo shoots, autograph signings and other events. Often times, there is NO additional compensation for most of this extra work. On top of the (free) extra work, cheerleaders have to pay to clean their own uniforms. That is so sad and ridiculous, it should actually make you laugh.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Fighting For Change

What was once the NFL’s dirty little secret, is slowly being exposed, thanks to successful lawsuits. The ugly truth behind NFL cheerleading surfaced in September of 2014, when a cheerleader named Lacy filed a wage lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders. Lacy claimed she was paid less than $5 an hour as a Raiderette. That lawsuit, a class action case, was settled for $1.25 million. You go girl!

After Lacy’s case, more cheerleaders filed suits against their (cheap) employers. In a matter of months, suits were brought against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Buffalo Bills, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What appeared to be an isolated labor grievance in Oakland, became a systemic problem for the league (as if they don’t have enough issues).


Realistically speaking, cheerleaders shouldn’t make anywhere near the amount of money earned by the players. That would be crazy. But their current compensation is just as crazy. It’s pretty hypocritical to trot out pink everything during breast cancer month, yet at the same time, some teams are paying their (female) cheerleaders LESS than minimum wage. Besides the moral issue at hand, from a business perspective, this is something the NFL needs to fix quickly. Between the domestic violence issues and the concussion catastrophe, the league already has enough on their plate. This should NOT be a problem. Would it really hurt these franchises to double the pay of these cheerleaders making $125 per game…?

Moral of the story — don’t believe the hype — being an NFL cheerleader sucks!

Source: International Business Times

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