While professional athletes, especially National Football League players, are treated with the upmost respect, the cheerleaders at their games face less than ideal working conditions. This is absolutely unfair. Cheerleaders deserve to be treated like the athletes they are, not simply as accessories or objects.
The mistreatment of NFL cheerleaders is clear “from appalling, oppressive conditions, like regular weigh-ins, ‘jiggle tests,’ and overbearing social media rules, to the teams raking in $13 billion hardly paying the women on the sidelines minimum wage,” according to Vogue.
These poor working conditions also represent a larger issue in society. Women are viewed as less than their male counterparts in many occupations—sports jobs being one of the main offenders—and this must end.
Such mistreatment is not only based in sexism, but also objectifies and sexualizes women in a way that negatively affects them. This likely allows the teams to reap the benefits in viewership and sponsorship opportunities.
Furthermore, the NFL aims to control the cheerleaders’ actions once they leave the stadium, and “this includes limiting their social media activity as well as the people they choose to date and socialize with. Restrictions are placed on their nail polish and jewelry,” according to The New York Times.
The issues with the mistreatment of NFL cheerleaders was brought to light after Bailey Davis, who cheered for the New Orleans Saints, was fired in January due to a photo she posted on Instagram in a one-piece bathing suit, according to The New York Times.
Davis complained and her voice, and those of other cheerleaders, deserves to be heard. This treatment cannot be allowed. If nothing changes, women across all industries will continue to face discrimination.
“The complaint comes at a time when the NFL is dealing with issues of domestic violence and sexual harassment among players and league employees,” according to The New York Times. Such a popular sport and league should be held accountable for its sexist, inappropriate requirements for cheerleaders and set an example for other athletic leagues.