Give Me a P, Give Me an A, Give Me a Y . . . NFL Owners Facing Legislation To Force Minimum Wage For Cheerleaders

It often seems that a day cannot go by without finding something to truly hate about the NFL. Despite being a football (and Bears) fan, I have long found the NFL itself to operate just slightly above the level of the Barbary Pirate kingdoms. We can add the abusive treatment of cheerleaders. California this month moved to become the first state to require that cheerleaders be paid minimum wage by teams. While lawyers have long insisted that they already qualify for such pay, some NFL teams have been pulling in hundreds of millions of dollars while paying cheerleaders either nothing or the equivalent of $5 an hour. The “Buffalo Jills” for example were paid nothing. Nothing by a time that featured them and pulled in millions for televised games.

New York is also considering such legislation.

The teams appear to be basing their lack of support — and decency — on a claim that the cheerleaders are independent contractors and performed for the honor of being NFL cheerleaders. I would love to see that claim extend to players (though in the case of the Bears, we give $120 million of a quarterback who often seems to be playing for the other team).

Consider the Raiders, who pay their cheerleaders just $1,250 per season (while overpaid players are given tens of thousands of dollars a game to just show up on top of their million plus a year salaries). That translates to $5 an hour. The lawyers for the Raiderettes were recently successful in securing a $1.25 settlement.

What is amazing is that this is an incredibly tiny cost to these team owners and the NFL. There should not be the need for multiple lawsuits and legislation to get owners to act like human beings.

23 thoughts on “Give Me a P, Give Me an A, Give Me a Y . . . NFL Owners Facing Legislation To Force Minimum Wage For Cheerleaders”

  1. Anyone who objects to the lack of pay should not participate. I think people who devote that amount of time to a business without being paid is silly. But should I or anyone else interfere in others’ decisions?

  2. bigfatmike

    There is a difference between cheerleading and a regular old job. In a regular old job a person can show up and stay showing up, work their way up an in-house ladder, or use the job to move on to better things. The state of the ‘basic wage’ situation in the US is third world. It is next to impossible to get anywhere starting at the entry level. However, there are ways, opportunities, and existing structures to the big dream.

    Regarding cheerleaders, this is more like buying a lottery ticket. Girls want to be cheerleaders in order to make connections, flaunt their body for favors, and other opportunistic objectives of the immediate and momentary kind. It is not part of a structured, scholastic, or other formatted way to the top. It may seem like work but it is not work.

    I knew a Raiderette who told me that the time she spent with the Raiders was all about partying and meeting people. She never considered it a job. Her Dad ran the transportation end for Al Davis, buses, limos, etc. and the perks were what ever she wanted to make of it.

    It’s hard to sympathize with a cheerleader.

    But then there is that one most famous Captain of the Yale cheerleaders who made it all the way to the White House, twice. Go figure.

  3. Well, strippers are employees, not independent contractors. At least in these two states.

    FWIW, the incentive of using prostitution as a way to make extra probably plays a part in this. I head that many early female blues singers used their songs as a way to increase their earnings in bed. I could not quickly find a link, but there is this, which is interesting:

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  4. This is how unions form. Fools take advantage and someone gets annoyed. So be it. As an old time skilled tradesman I have no use, none what-so-ever, for outfits like SIEU (produce nothing but demand everything…for the hierarchy) … but I’d bet they’re in this fracas just for their dues they can collect involuntarily. Heck, even the fed employee unions are voluntary. You could say cheerleaders produce little, but they show up and should be paid by a multi billion dollar enterprise. Only after that “joining” with SIEU do the “new members” figure out they’ve been screwed. This may be the end of the non-profit status for big sports. Sad to say, it just may be due.

  5. One more reason to respect my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers, who devote resources to cheerleading in direct proportion to the intrinsic value of the endeavor and its practitioners. I challenge anyone to find a Steelers cheerleader who would complain about working conditions or compensation.

  6. Women line up to compete for these positions, and it ain’t cause these jobs offer a great retirement package. Those desperately seeking to make the cut and become cheerleaders don’t do it for the money or they, obviously, wouldn’t be there. The money part is not a secret to those vying to be chosen to perform. Most, I suspect, become cheerleaders out of some delusional dream of getting discovered–hoping to be that one standout face in the crowd. The story of being discovered at the soda fountain by the big Hollywood producer sort of thing. Others, I assume, perform with the idea that this “job” will expose them to various movers and shakers who can/will assist them in their future careers. Having said that, these guys really ought to be throwing a few more shekels their way. Can’t wait for the Norma Ray of cheerleaders to stand on a table with a sign declaring UNION NOW!

  7. That is about the same amount they pay an adjunct professor.

  8. Let the free market work. Then, when the team’s contemplate eliminating these cheerleaders the fans will have the last call. They want them, they will have to pay for them.

    1. “As far as I know ……. no one is forced to be a cheerleader …. problem solved”

      No one is forced to work at Walmart or Sears but when we provide an economic good or service by showing up ready, willing and able to work we like to get paid for it.

  9. Football is a circus. The cheerleaders are meat. How much does a circus pay the Lions and Tigers?

    Come the revolution!!!!!!!

  10. That $5 an hour is just for game time? What about all the hours they spend practicing? They are getting ripped off big time.

  11. The Packers don’t have these hoochy mama cheerleaders. Problem solved.

  12. I thought a major characteristic of independent contractors is that they determine how to accomplish the given task on their own, unsupervised. i can’t wait for a dozen cheerleaders – each on her own – to decide according to their professional expertise what cheer to present and when. That ought to make for some fascinating side line entertainment.

  13. JT,

    If the pay is worst than minimum wage, then why do so many females line up for tryouts? Is it a chance to get on tv? Or is it a chance to hook up with one of the players, coaches, etc?

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