An NFL team isn’t complete without a cheering squad. It’s the cheerleaders who keep the mood vibrant while players strive to set a record for the team.
When you see those young women dance in the field before a match starts, you’d think that being a cheerleader is all glamorous. Sadly, it’s not.
While they throng the field with million-dollar players, they only get peanuts for what they do. And it’s not easy money as you’d think. There’s more that happens behind the scenes that would make you think twice before joining a cheering squad.
But they love what they do, and that keeps them going. Or for some, the compensation is better than having nothing at all.
What It Takes to Be a Cheerleader
Being an NFL cheerleader is more than making appearances in a game. Away from the stadiums, cheerleaders have to adhere to strict rules and stick to a rigid schedule.
The training and the requirements would make one feel like it’s a full-time job altogether. While most squads require that their cheerleaders have other jobs, one has to commit at least eight hours per week for training.
Besides that, for home games, you have to be there throughout the day and sometimes work when the teams are playing on holidays.
Add this to the time spent on photo shoots and public appearances, and you get a schedule that’s too tight for one to strike a balance between work and personal life.
With such a rigid schedule, you’re left to wonder how you’d manage a full-time job on the side as required.
If you thought rigorous training was a big concern, then you’d be shocked to learn what most of these cheerleaders are subjected to.
To begin with, their appearance, from head to toe, should be perfect at all times. Even a slight change in skin shade could send you home. Gaining weight is forbidden, and you’ve got to be fit at all times.
A former NFL cheerleader says even wearing the wrong outfit to rehearsals can earn you a fine.
Somehow, cheerleaders have to give up their personal life. None of them are allowed to do modeling without seeking permission from their bosses. Even worse, some teams demand squad members to “friend” their bosses on their social media accounts so that they track their online activities.
Also, NFL cheerleaders aren’t allowed to get romantically involved with the players. You’d get fired if you go against this.
The demands coupled with a tight schedule make cheerleading less glamorous as it looks. However, these ladies have to maintain a vibrant mood all through, and they’re good at it.
What Cheerleaders Take Home
Most NFL teams don’t reveal what their cheerleaders earn. Nevertheless, a report reveals that cheer squad members get a salary lower than their minimum wages.
To make it worse, they spend most of what they earn to maintain their looks. This includes setting aside some money for manicures, makeup, and even personal trainers. So in the end, they’re only left with a few hundred dollars to take home.
Currently, NFL cheerleaders earn anything between $75 and $150 per game and can get up to $50 hourly for special corporate appearances. They also earn between $50 and $75 for every public appearance.
The amount payable depends on the number of appearances you make, but still, it doesn’t even add up to $10,000 per year.
Despite the low salary figure, one has to pay to audition for any of the cheering squads. Some teams charge an audition fee as high as $75.
On the flip side, an NFL player earns at least $2 million annually, and the league’s annual revenue is about $14 billion, according to Forbes. This means the league can pay higher for its cheerleaders, but where is the problem?
Is There Any Hope for National Football League Cheerleaders?
Following multiple lawsuits filed by different cheering squads, there’s hope that the salary figures could change in the coming days.
A lawsuit by the Oakland Raiders saw their hourly pay rate increase from $5 per hour to $15 hourly. Other cheering squads have also filed and won similar lawsuits and expect a salary boost.
In a bid to protect its reputation, the NFL is working hard to better cheerleader compensation. So there’s hope.
The excitement of performing before thousands in a stadium makes cheerleading an interesting job. Nevertheless, the pay isn’t worth the dance moves and sacrifices one has to make. It’s more or less like a token of appreciation for voicing out support for the team you’re representing.