Seriously. This is a legitimate question, and I’d love some responses.
But first, let me tell you how I got to this question.
A news story popped up because some new cheerleader outfits were being called too skimpy and revealing.
I went to check out the article, and there was a great quote from a guy who claimed that there was nothing wrong with the outfits that bear a striking resemblance to something found in Victoria’s Secret or Frederick’s of Hollywood. But, he was careful to note, his daughter (also a cheerleader) would never be allowed to wear something like that. “‘I think they’re a little overdressed. Of course, I’ve got a daughter who’s a cheerleader down there, and she will not be wearing anything like that,’ said Dennis Stanek.”
Ah, the joys of hypocrisy!
This whole exchange got me interested, though, in the careers of professional cheerleaders. Just why is it worth it for them to engage in cheering on these sports teams? What do they get out of it? Is it just, as the article says, that they “[cater] to that 14-year-old boy or even that 30-year-old woman that they can inspire”? (Which, I’d like to assure you, I find hard to believe – perhaps men of all ages, but unless you assume all women are lesbians, that “inspiration” is lacking.)
So I went and found another article, one that talked about the Redskin cheerleaders, just to use as an example. The cheerleaders who make the cut get paid – are you ready? – a whopping $75 per home game performance! Wow, huge bucks in that field! Now, to be fair, they also receive a pair of season tickets, but, of course, they’re working during the games, so they have to give those away. Now, here comes all the unpaid work: two to five practices a week, lasting up to six hours each; practicing and studying the choreography outside of the practices; exercising, tanning, dieting, etc. and all those other goodies that they have to do to keep up their “look;” and eight days every year for a calendar shoot (they don’t receive any proceeds from the calendar sale, FYI). Then there are the game days themselves, which means that most of the cheerleaders are up early in the morning to get ready and be at the field before 8 a.m. for a 1 p.m. game. Then, assuming all goes well, the cheerleaders are done by 6 p.m. On top of that, the Redskins won’t state how much the cheerleaders make for their personal appearances at various locations (which the Redskins charge for), plus any of the images of the cheerleaders are used without any fees going to the women, even though the football players are paid for the use of their likenesses.
Sounding like a raw deal?
Let me also note that the average salary for an NFL football player is $770,000 a year (as of 2010 figures), although the low end is a measly $200,000 and the high end a whopping $1.4 million. To play a sport, and sometimes, I might note, play it really, really poorly. I wonder if cheerleaders would get contracts like that if they fumbled and dropped the ball, so to speak…
Regardless, let’s get real now.
Forbes, in October of 2011, had an awesome series on strippers. The strippers they talked to earned a whole lot more than those cheerleaders, and, depending on where they were, sometimes wore just as much. (Remember, some areas, do not allow full nudity…) So, one woman earned anywhere from $23 to $31 an hour. When she worked anywhere from 75 to 96 hours per month (how many hours do you put in? 160 or more?), she took home about $2,200 to $2,900 a month. On top of that, she was able to deduct all of her expenses for waxing, costumes, make-up, etc. Another woman they talked to earned up to $4,400 a month, again working only 9 days that month. The women admit that age can lower their earnings, and some months are worse than others, but we’re still talking about performing in scanty outfits.
Let’s look at it this way:
Similarities: Must be in good physical condition. Must keep up their appearance. Must wear skimpy outfits and perform in public.
Differences: $75 for a full day’s work. $120 for about 4 hours’ work.
So, again, let me ask the question: Why be a cheerleader when stripping pays better?