Professional cheerleaders across America are downing their pompoms in a dispute over pay with one of the nation’s powerful sporting leagues, the National Football League.
The NFL ratchets up a colossal 9.7 billion dollars in annual revenue yet team cheerleaders, one of the most iconic symbols of the game, are often not paid anything for their energetic side-line routines. Nor are they paid for practice sessions and mandatory off-pitch appearances. While some cheerleaders are now paid for games they often have to pay for expensive team uniforms and travel themselves, leaving them out of pocket at the end of the season.
Now cheerleaders are taking legal action to bring their pay in line with the minimum wage. The cheerleaders argue that they are professional entertainers, spending long hours learning complicated and technical routines requiring high levels of dancing and acrobatic skill. In stark contrast to cheerleaders’ pay, the minimum salary for a male NFL player is $420,000 per season. Cheerleaders are beloved by their teams’ fans, and their average airtime during an average season is worth $8.25 million per season to the NFL as a whole. The first test cases are due to be heard in the American courts this year; meanwhile the number of cheering claimants is growing all the time. More power to them, we say!