Not very cheerful

Cheerleaders challenging strict regulations

The National Football League is under scrutiny for their alleged sexist restrictions for the professional cheerleaders. Photo by: Keith Salowich | Web Supervisor

Many NFL teams are under scrutiny for the double standard that has long been ignored. 

Former NFL cheerleader “Saintsation” Bailey Davis, 20, was fired for posting a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit in January. She was accused of violating the rule that states that the cheerleaders are prohibited from appearing nude, semi-nude or in lingerie on social media. Davis filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), addressing the fact that the New Orleans Saints have a set of rules for the female cheerleaders and not the male players, according to the New York Times. 

That’s not the only social media restriction put on Saints cheerleaders: they are also required to have private accounts and block all NFL players, according to the New York Times. They also cannot post photos of themselves in Saints gear or even disclose their affiliation with the team. Cheerleaders’ personal accounts are never tagged in posts by the NFL team’s official Instagram account. The restrictions limit cheerleaders’ ability to promote themselves and players are not required to follow any of those rules. 

“If the women of cheerleading are being restricted and not allowed to post in these certain formats then so should the men,” Ferris biology education freshman and cheerleader Scott Vincent said. “Many players pose nude in photoshoots to show off their athleticism, yet the cheerleaders are only allowed to pose in these ways when the NFL says so.” 

The Saints also have anti-fraternization policies. Cheerleaders are not allowed to be at the same restaurant or party as players and if a player is at the same place as them, they must leave even if they were there first, according to the New York Times. The team says the restrictions are to protect the cheerleaders from players preying on them and harassing them, yet the players are put under no restrictions in regard to their contact with cheerleaders. 

While cheerleaders are not allowed to appear nude or semi-nude on their personal accounts, official cheerleading accounts constantly post pictures of the women in revealing bikinis. The women are not tagged and if they are named, only their first name is used and occasionally the first initial of their last name, according to the New York Times. 

“As a male cheerleader, I feel that it is disgusting how people sexualize our athletes. The women of cheerleading are not always seen for their worth as they should be,” Vincent said. “I have worked with many girls and they work hard and sweat just as much as any other athlete. For the NFL to use their girls as sexual objects is very offensive to the sport.” 

According to the New York Times, cheerleaders from other organizations have filed lawsuits over unfair working environments in the past. Members from the Cincinnati Bengals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Jets won thousands of dollars after suing for poor pay and the fact that they were required to pay for their own makeup, uniforms and transportation. Oakland Raiders cheerleaders also settled a lawsuit over poor pay and are now paid minimum wage. 

Ferris pre-optometry freshman and former cheerleader Lauren Zielinski said the cheerleaders should get paid above minimum wage. 

“I think athletes in general should be paid more than minimum wage because wages should be determined on the type of work you are doing,” Zielinski said. “However, I do not think that all athletes should be paid the same due to the differences in the line of work. Overall, I think that football would be considered a more dangerous sport due to the continuously strenuous situations each player is put into and therefore result in a higher pay.”

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