In 2014, NFL players earned an average of $2.1 million per year. But the people meant to cheer for them from the sidelines and entertain the crowd during halftime were paid significantly less. The Hollywood Reporter reports that Kelsey K., a former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader, was paid $1,250 for her work during the 2013-2014 season, which amounts to $2.75 an hour. That’s well below the $7.25 federal minimum wage. To add insult to injury, the Reporter says team mascots are paid up to $65,000 a year, sometimes with retirement benefits, which still does not compare to the extraordinary players’ salaries. All this despite the fact that cheerleading is one of the most dangerous sports. The sexism at the root of these pay inequalities is impossible to ignore.
The NFL has come under fire for underpaying its cheerleaders before. And in May, the Oakland Raiders paid a $1.25 million settlement to cheerleaders who sued the team for unfair pay. Still, the inequalities continue. Perhaps this season will finally be the one during which the league is forced to take its unfair treatment of cheerleaders seriously.