By Kelly Ross

Over the years the National Football League has become known not only for its great games and world renowned players, but also for its glamorous cheerleaders. It’s impossible to think of a live NFL game and not think of these gorgeous women pumping up the crowd on the sidelines and supporting their team. So, how much do they make for a day of work at the venue hosting the most popular day in sports, the Super Bowl? The International Business Times attempted to find out what cheerleaders made for the Super Bowl last year and got nowhere. There’s probably a reason they’re keeping mum, because here’s what we do know:

NFL Cheerleaders are notoriously underpaid for their work, sometimes making just $1,000 a season or just $100 a game. In recent years several NFL Cheerleading squads sued their teams for wage theft, shedding a new light on the industry. Cheerleaders from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, New York Jets and Buffalo Bills left the fields for the courtrooms to fight for minimum wage.

Some cheerleading squads have become so popular that they’ve even received television shows, like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team; where you can watch the grueling process that takes place to become an NFL Cheerleader. You would think such a high profile gig would pay pretty well right? Unfortunately, that is not the case.

While the average salary of an Oakland Raider is in the millions, cheerleaders for this team were making a mere $5 an hour, well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25. It is inconceivable that a company will billions in revenue could not afford to pay its workers minimum wage, and misclassified them as independent contractors to get away with it.

With the Super Bowl just around the corner it is important to keep in mind that the workers in this part of the industry are overworked and underpaid. Though we have made major advancements in this country through the work of solidarity, this is a stark reminder of how important unions are. Unions fight for the worker, and a stronger middle class.

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0 #5 samar 2017-03-18 23:49
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0 #4 Sophia Hawkins 2016-02-11 13:12
This is so unfair. I think one of the rationalizations is that the women are getting to live a dream of theirs, but of course this can be said about the players as well. And even though the cheerleaders can be considered somewhat "secondary," the same can be said for the eternal bench warmer who receives an extremely high minimum salary.

No matter how somebody views cheerleaders, they are synonymous with an aspect of football. And being so skilled in a business making such high profits, they deserve to get paid very well. This is not to mention how much practice and training time they put in.

And for those who might sneer at their abilities, these women have a skill set that could lend itself very well to gymnastics or even ballet (considered to have artistic and cultural value), among other stuff. And "even" in cheerleading, these women are being highly expressive and athletic. Just because so many men have a fetish for them, this does not mean that they are sexualizing themselves; it is men (and some lesbians, although I'm pretty sure their number is quite disproportionately low in terms of their population) who are sexually fetishizing these women. Talk about a transfer of blame. And this is as if there is something terrible about being alluring anyway. I suppose God forbid a man gets a sophisticated haircut, an expensive, form-fitting suit, and flashes his dimples; what a gross, self-degrading whore this man is!

I want to be less direct and provide some important context, because being so blunt alone can hurt people and stop dialogue.

I just believe for so many reasons that the onus is on the men to not sexualize these women. And that they are not inherently flaky, shallow, and attention-seeking for being cheerleaders. For context, many "pretty and expressive" women and girls have been wonderful to me, accepting me to the point of a thorough embrace and mutually sharing ourselves in very meaningful ways. And I must mention that I had some of these women in mind when I posted my "Hilary (Duff) 2016" picture which also included my thoughts. It wasn't altogether a joke; I had a positive point that I don't want these women to not be taken seriously.

And, for further context, imagine your nine-year-old daughter/niece/whoever is strutting about and being extremely expressive playing her dance/singing video game. She is delighted and smiling so wide it spans the earth. Do you think that she is sexualizing herself in this example? Of course not. I would just like anybody reading this to give cheerleaders (and other "pretty and expressive" women) similar consideration.

"Hilary 2016:"

And to help you understand the irony inherent in not supporting these cheerleaders, either because the game itself is supposedly so important, or because these women are supposedly mere sex objects, please realize that this is a sport that involves voyeuring extremely large, muscular men hitting each other over and over, while the voyeurs relentlessly cheer on the gladiators. Although, I do grant you the existence of pretty-boy quarterbacks with butt pads making their derrieres that much more delightfully sexual. And that these quarterbacks get to orchestrate so very much, being such commanding and improvising and therefore hypnotic men. Just thinking about it makes me beyond hot. En fuego, really.

P.S. I just thought about one more thing: If cheerleaders weren't payed so little, they wouldn't be forced to have additional employment or to rely on others financially. Not having to rely on others for financial support would actually help legitimize them and make them more independent in ways that would help combat men who would like to take them home as some sort of delicate-but-highly-skilled pet who supposedly oozes sex, although of course these men have never actually met these women, much less known them; they live in a self-indulgent and limiting fantasy world in this respect.
0 #3 Sarah 2016-02-11 10:21
Except they don't just turn up for the game. They do hours and hours of practice, they do publicity, and most have to pay for their own uniforms. I don't think cheerleaders are necessary, and I think if they all stood together and walked out, they might be better off instead of tolerating it because someone else will step in and take their place. But, if a team wants them, they should pay them decently.
0 #2 Greta 2016-02-10 16:33
The average professional football game lasts about 3 hours. Making 100 bucks a game works out to $33 dollars an hour. That is WAY more than minimum wage, especially for flouncing skimpy outfits and over-sexualizing themselves and a game that should be focusing on the sport instead. And while yes, it's a very athletic position I do not think at all that it should be considered an actual job (I feel the same about all professional sports). If they want to be cheerleaders, great, stop complaining about the pay and get a part time job. I am sure many of those girls would be better suited using their brains and getting real jobs that benefit our society rather than our desires for lusty entertainment.
0 #1 G.R. Jones 2016-02-05 23:09
Serves them right for calling bouncing around in skimpy outfits for the entertainment of men a "job". They're getting paid more than what they're worth.

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