We all know professional sports organizations are chauvinistic but what’s shocking is how much they’re still getting away with. An article in today’s New York Times by Ken Belson reminded me of an earlier blog I posted about the disgraceful way the NFL treats its cheerleaders. Former New Orleans Saints’ cheerleader Bailey Davis was recently fired for posting a picture of herself in a one-piece outfit in her private Instagram account that went against the cheerleader’s rule book. Her breach of contract for such a minor infraction is typical of the rules enforced by the team. They apply to cheerleaders but not players. Cheerleaders are not allowed to fraternize with players and are even forbidden from entering a restaurant where a player is dining and must leave immediately if a player enters the restaurant. The same rules to not apply to players.
Recent court cases have attacked team organizations for discrimination against cheerleaders and resulted in minor improvements. Saints’ cheerleaders now receive $10.25 an hour and many teams’ cheerleaders have to pay their own travel expenses to games. Compare that with what the players receive. When I read about Ms. Davis’s plight, I thought I’d repost the piece I published four years ago. Think about this the next time you watch an NFL football game.
There is probably not another person on this planet who has less interest in or knowledge of football than I. From my vantage point it’s simply a game of run, bump and fall down. Am I missing something? As I was listening to the Ward & Al show (Channel 167) on Canada Talks SiriusXM satellite radio the other day, however, I heard something that immediately spiked my interest in the world of football.
The Buffalo Bills who share a home team fan base with Toronto have a six-woman cheerleading squad called the Buffalo Jills. Five of the six members of the squad are suing the Bills’ organization for unacceptable working conditions. This is where it gets interesting and I learned something I did not know. These women are not paid for their work nor are they reimbursed for expenses incurred in the performance of their responsibilities. Their love of football should suffice. Some of their complaints include having to pay from their own pockets for their $650.00 “uniforms” for which they have to show receipts to verify that the uniforms are dry-cleaned at least once a month.
- They are expected to attend numerous community and promotional commercial events for which they are not paid.
- They are not reimbursed for their travel and parking expenses for events or games in town or out-of-town.
- They are required to attend rehearsals three times a week and are subjected to “jiggle” tests to ensure they are maintaining a strict level of physical condition.
- There is an extensive list of requirements to be adhered to involving such things as personal hygiene, hair styles and even how often they must wash their feet.
- They are expected to sell calendars they have to pay for in advance and are not reimbursed for any they do not sell.
- And for all of this they are expected to be grateful for being allowed to see football games free and be groped.
This is a shameful, disgusting, unforgivable, indefensible, distressful, deplorable situation and the Buffalo Bills should be ashamed. Rarely have I heard of such exploitive work practices—and this from an organization worth billions of dollars that pays its players millions. Even the ticket collectors are treated better than the Buffalo Jills. Imagine the reaction if it were suggested the players not be compensated and be satisfied with the privilege and enjoyment of being part of the NFL. If the cheerleaders were male, fair wage and expense contracts would have been negotiated decades ago.
I understand this situation is not limited to just the Buffalo franchise. There is no doubt in my mind that the treatment of the cheerleaders is sexist and should never be tolerated. How many of the fans are aware of this situation and do they condone it? Would you let this happen to your daughter or granddaughter? If I didn’t hate football already, I certainly have good reason to do so now. They have absolutely no concept of fair play and should be severely penalized. This is not the third world and such practices are not acceptable there either.
For what it’s worth, Bailey Davis and all the other NFL cheerleaders have the support of this non-fan of football and the NFL in particular. It’s been four years since my earlier posting and little progress has been made. Obviously the NFL doesn’t follow BOOMERBROADcast.net. They should. In these times of #metoo and the struggles by women for equal rights and recognition, the NFL and its teams should be ashamed.