Average NFL Cheerleader Pay
You’d think that cheerleaders get paid really well considering they’re the face of many NFL teams. However, until very recently, cheerleaders didn’t even get paid minimum wage. A few laws were pushed through, and now, they get paid slightly more – and we do mean slightly. Several media sites published NFL cheerleaders get between $50 to $75 per public appearance.
However, one former cheerleader for Dallas spilled the beans on their actual pay. She stated that she gets $3,000 per season. Other sources claim that they can get up to $20,000 to $75,000 if they’re very experienced (which few cheerleaders qualify for). Cheerleaders also get a bonus if the team goes to the playoffs or the Super Bowl.
Must Buy Their Own Uniform
You know those cute little uniforms they bounce around in? Yeah, those aren’t free. Sure, most people have to buy a company shirt, but how much are those usually? Around $25 or something, but cheerleaders? Their costumes cost upwards of $500. What’s even worse is that they have to pay for the costumes on their own.
That is pretty awful since many cheerleaders only make around $10 an hour if they even get paid at all. That means they’d have to work 50 hours just to be able to afford the uniform! The hits just keep coming when you learn that they need more than one uniform. They’ll need a home and away uniform, but they’ll also need ones for different weather, events, and performances.
Must Go to Every Rehearsal
Cheerleaders are required to go to every single rehearsal, no matter what. What if they get sick? Doesn’t matter! They have to go. If they don’t, they’re fined. If they miss too many, then they’re just fired – do not pass go, do not collect $200! Cheerleaders are also not paid for many rehearsals, either.
A class-action lawsuit from a former cheerleader claimed they weren’t compensated. The Raiders just paid $1.25 million for a fair pay lawsuit, and the Jets paid $324,000 for the same thing, according to USA Today. This isn’t the first lawsuit brought by a Raiders cheerleader, and it likely won’t be the last.
We’ve all worked a job where we’ve been told that we can’t sit. Chances are, you can do the job just fine sitting. We get that cheerleaders shouldn’t sit down when they should be dancing on a field, but outside of that – why not? Apparently, they can’t sit down even when they aren’t performing.
The rule states that girls must always “stand and move around,” according to The Sportster. Unless an official requests them to sit, the women should remain standing at all times. Most of these women are in high heels or boots, by the way. While we’re on the subject, what kind of “official requests” do the cheerleaders get to sit?
Hair Must Be One Color
A lawsuit from the Buffalo Jills revealed a lot of rules, and it was a tell-all like no other lawsuit has been before. One of the stupidest rules is that hair must be one color. We would partially understand different colors like pink, purple, green, and the like, but this also includes balayage, streaks, and other types of styles.
The actual rule states that “No trendy roots or coloring” is allowed. However, if women really want highlights, they can try to get prior approval to dye their own hair. The Jills’ handbook goes on to say that roots must be maintained at all times. If they don’t, then they could be fined or even fired.
Don’t Use Slang
Cheerleaders are consistently drilled that they are “representing the team” at all times, even when they’re not on the field. At the store? Representing the team. Checking their mail at home? Representing the team. It doesn’t matter where they are or what they’re doing. For that reason, they’re not allowed to use slang.
Words such as “like,” “dude,” “ain’t,” “you’s guys,” and “I seen it,” are expressly forbidden in the Jills’ handbook. Even when they’re off-duty, they have to be grammatically correct. If they’re caught using these words, then the cheerleaders can get into serious trouble. Considering most people say “dude,” we don’t see an issue with slang.
Always Use Utensils to Eat
Cheerleaders have to follow strict dining rules like the Royal family except even worse. Handbooks go into intricate detail on how to eat including what silverware to use to “eat at the same pace as the people you are dining with.” We get using the proper fork, but paying close attention to how quickly people are eating?
What if they’re eating much faster? Guess the cheerleader has to shove food in her mouth while still being proper. The guidebook also states that cheerleaders cannot use their fingers to eat, so no chicken strips or chicken wings! That’s basic football food, so that isn’t very fair. What do they eat at tailgating parties?
Refrain from Public Touch-Ups
Cheerleaders are supposed to be perfect at all times because they’re representing the team, and perfect people don’t have to touch up their makeup – or something like that. According to Business Insider, cheerleaders cannot touch up their makeup, adjust clothing, or fix anything about their appearance while on the field or in the public eye.
If they have to do any adjusting, no matter what it is, they have to do so in private. Fixing anything in public is considered to be admitting that they’re not perfect. What a crazy, ridiculous rule. What if there isn’t a private place to fix their makeup or clothing?
Only Post Appropriate Photos on Social Media
Most handbooks tell cheerleaders that they’re representing the team whether they’re “on duty” or off. That’s drilled into their heads like nothing else. Because of that, cheerleaders aren’t allowed to post photos the NFL deems inappropriate. As you can already tell, what one person deems “appropriate” may not be so for someone else.
Cheerleaders’ social media accounts are always under scrutiny, and many girls have lost their jobs due to photos the NFL didn’t like. While some are understandable, others? Not so much. Bailey Davis, a New Orleans Saintsations cheerleader, was fired because she posted a photo of her wearing lingerie which covered more than her actual costume.
Hair Must be Worn in a “Glamorous Style”
The Jills’ handbook explicitly states that “hair must be worn in a glamourous style with no clips or tie backs.” Who decides what a “glamourous style” is? Also, cheerleaders can get extremely hot when they’re out in the heat training almost every day. Why not let them put their hair up?
The actual rule continues to go into detail about the type of curl cheerleaders can have (no ringlets), and that short hair must be worn full and fabulous. Guess bobs aren’t allowed either. We sincerely hope a guy name Bob didn’t come up with that rule. Maybe he was just tired of being made fun of.
Conversation is Required
Cheerleaders have to talk to people – it’s part of their job. Antisocial people need not apply. They also have to talk about very specific things, which is partially understandable, but it gets a little more ridiculous than “avoid hot topics like religion and politics.” Handbooks outline what they can and cannot talk about.
Cheerleaders cannot talk about the weather, for one. It’s seen as “desperate.” Clearly, a southerner didn’t come up with this rule since that’s all people have to talk about in the South. They also can’t use “I” or “me” too often, make inappropriate jokes, get too personal, or talk about their personal lives.
Sell Calendars During Games
Calendars are a basic staple of cheerleading merch. Most people think they do it out of fun, but nope! Even that has some extremely strict rules attached to it. Cheerleaders are mandated to pose for their NFL teams for calendars, and they also have to sell a certain number each day and each quarter.
While it differs from team to team, some cheerleaders are required to sell 20 calendars a day while others need t push 50 per quarter. If they don’t sell enough, they’re fined from their paychecks. That doesn’t seem legal, but somehow, they get away with it. Do people even buy calendars anymore?
Water Breaks Only During Offense
The New York Times exposed a number of things the Panthers cheerleaders (the TopCats) have to deal with. While some just seem ridiculous like some of the rules we’ve already listed, others sound downright inhumane. One of the worst was that cheerleaders could only take water breaks during certain times.
Being a cheerleader is a physically demanding job. Some of them are out cheering for their team in 90-degree weather on a bright, sunny day. According to the Panthers rulebook, the cheerleaders are only allowed to have a water break when the team is on the offensive. Considering the Panthers aren’t particularly amazing, we feel sorry for the team’s cheerleaders.
Must Wear Two-Piece Outfits on Tuesdays
One of the most shocking rule books was that of the Oakland Raiderettes. The 2012 etiquette agreement was leaked online, and it revealed several questionable things that left people wondering, “what the heck is going on with cheerleading?” One of the worst things that caught peoples’ eye was “two-piece Tuesdays.”
While it has a light-hearted name, this two-piece Tuesday deal requires women to show up to practice wearing a two-piece. It must reveal their midriff, too, or else they’ll be fined $10 for each day they don’t show up with it on. Showing off your body is apparently mandatory with the Raiderettes.
Maintain Personal Hygiene
Okay, this one we sort of get. Some people need to be told that they need to shower or wear deodorant. There’s nothing wrong with maintaining personal hygiene, but the problem is that the handbooks get pretty detailed – and we mean really detailed. It borders on obscene, to be honest.
The Jills’ handbook even required women to change their feminine products every four hours. For some women, that’s a little much. They may not need to change their feminine products every four hours. There are also some devices you don’t need to change all day. Every woman is different. Also, who checks this?
Okay, this is where the line should have been drawn. This almost seems like something Harvey Weinstein would say while filming one of his movies. Cheerleaders cannot wear underwear under their costumes. Why? Because the fabric may stick out during a performance! You’d think whoever comes up with these rules would be happy.
Wearing underwear is a matter of hygiene! To go even further, some teams also require cheerleaders to go commando during practice; we said practice, as in there’s no crowd. However, some are allowed to wear seamless sports bras for support. That’s awfully forgiving of whoever makes these rules. Now if only women can wear their underwear.
No Negative Facial Expressions
We had to include this one just because the language is pretty funny. It really shows how archaic the whole guidebook is. The Raiderette’s handbook tells cheerleaders, “crude language, innuendos, slang and negative facial expressions are strictly VERBOTEN!” Yes, it’s all capitalized, and yes, they really do use the word “verboten” as if it were 1916.
The Jills’ handbook says something similar. Hopefully, it doesn’t include the word “verboten.” Few people use it, and even fewer know what it even means. What about the women who have resting b*tch face? Are they just screwed when it comes to becoming a cheerleader? We do kind of understand this rule. You don’t want a cheerleader snarling at you.
Cannot Attend Player Parties
The lawsuit against the Raiders revealed some pretty nasty stuff, and honestly, it deserves more coverage. The guidebook told women that they weren’t allowed to attend player parties. Why? There was a party a player threw that ended with a player being suspended for drug use and rape. Yeah, that’s messed up, but not even the beginning of it.
The handbook went on to say that this behavior from a player could ruin a cheerleader’s reputation if it happened to her. We want to reiterate: if a woman gets raped, the handbook says that her reputation could be damaged. We’re guessing she’d be fired too. Thus, player parties are off-limits.
Required to Follow a Strict Dress Code
Cheerleaders have to wear their uniforms while at a game. That’s totally understandable. If your work has a uniform rule, you have to abide by it. Would you abide by your company telling you what to wear when you weren’t at the job? Cheerleaders have to. Cheerleaders have to follow a dress code on and off the field.
Even when they’re not actively working an event (or technically working at all), women cannot wear sweatpants. There’s also a number of other things they can and cannot wear, but it all seems very Mean Girls. We’re guessing they wear sweatpants when no one is looking, but if they get caught? Boy, that would be bad.
Avoid “Hot Topics”
This one is kind of a given. Cheerleaders aren’t allowed to talk about certain things. More employers should have these rules if we’re being frank. That includes strong opinions, politics, and religion. They’re also never allowed to debate sensitive issues. Cheerleader handbooks just go a wee bit far in their rules.
Basically, cheerleaders aren’t allowed to have an opinion and must always have a sunny disposition like a Stepford wife. It’s all smiles all the time, and it’s preferred that they have an empty head! To have an opinion is unladylike. Just smile and wave, girls. Smile and wave. We hope you sense our sarcasm.
Subject to Regular Weigh-Ins
Weigh-ins aren’t really too much of a surprise. Cheerleaders are hired based on looks and kept on for the very same reason. It’s all about their…perkiness. That being said, what they have to go through is insane. The weigh-ins are extremely serious. For this reason, cheerleaders cannot eat before a weigh-in.
In addition to that, they have to be within three pounds of their “ideal weight.” Who sets their ideal weight? Certainly not a doctor since they can’t have too much body fat. On top of that, cheerleaders also can’t have substantial bodily changes. This even includes muscle definition, so you need to be fit but not too fit.
Must Sit in a “Ladylike” Manner
So, a cheerleader can’t sit down unless they get an official request – we’ve already established that. When they do get to sit, it’s probably a major reprieve. Time to rest that aching body! Psych! When they do finally sit down and chill, they have to do so in a “ladylike” manner.
They can’t even relax on their own terms! If you look at photos of sitting cheerleaders, you'll see that they all sit with their legs together with their ankles delicately crossed. The problem with this is that it requires muscle strength so they’re not really resting. Also, they display plenty during a show. Just let them sit how they want.
Shiny Hair or Nothing
Not only must their hair look glamorous and one color, but their hair also has to be shiny! This kind of puts a damper on some women’s hair since it can’t really be shiny. Looking past that, it requires a lot of salon visits and constant hair masks to make sure your hair stays in tip-top shiny shape. Sometimes, it’s even unhealthy.
However, the alternative is that the cheerleader with the dullest hair gets benched for the whole season (and likely won’t get paid). Cheerleaders also have to pay for all these treatments from their own pockets. If you haven’t been to a salon lately – getting your hair done is exorbitantly expensive.
No Skin Conditions
This one is an absolute riot. We don’t expect to see someone with red blotchy skin out on the field, but who could see that from a distance anyway? Apparently, some NFL teams have literally banned skin conditions. We understand that this is all based on looks, but they will seriously fire anyone with a skin condition.
First of all, that sounds illegal. Are they not protected from being fired for health conditions? Second, how far does it go? Is eczema considered bad enough to be fired? Some cases are so mild that they’re not even visible. Regardless, whether it’s their fault or not, cheerleaders get let go.
Only Use These Products
It doesn’t go far enough telling women that they must look beautiful. They also have to use very specific products to clean themselves. NFL teams like the Buffalo Bills have dictated which products their cheerleaders can use. There’s even an entire section for products to be used on private areas.
On top of that, they can’t use a loofa or a sponge to clean themselves. The handbooks state that loofas and sponges can carry bacteria. Telling women how to clean themselves crosses the line of the employee/employer contract. We never thought that would be something a person would have to say.
Cannot Follow Players on Social Media
There will naturally be a lot of rules between cheerleaders and players – that’s understandable. Most employers have some kind of rules for interoffice relationships. The odd part is when your employer starts telling you who you can and cannot follow on your social media accounts whether the account is private or not.
Cheerleaders represent the team, so they can’t keep anything private! Following a player on your team is explicitly forbidden. They can’t even say hello on social media. The NFL says they can’t dictate what a player does, so they can follow cheerleaders, but it cannot be the other way around. A cheerleader following a player back could result in a fine or being fired.
No Body Jiggling
You read that correctly. There’s a specific rule that says a cheerleader's body cannot jiggle. Given how archaic some of these rules are, we’re guessing it only has to do with specific areas of the body. Some NFL teams go a little far with this whole jiggling ordeal, though. Women may have to undergo what’s called a “jiggle test.”
During this “test,” women are required to do jumping jacks while their boss watches. If their body jiggles too much, they could be banned from the game. The jiggle test is to ensure that the women look amazing while dancing around. Whatever they want to say or call it, it’s beyond creepy.
No Pay for Minor Infractions
Cheerleaders need to look all the same. They’re supposed to move as one unit, so we get there’s a rule about it. What is messed up is that if a cheerleader forgets something, they can be docked an entire day’s pay even if it’s something impossibly minor that people wouldn’t catch.
A cheerleader has a million things that they need to keep track of. Most have three or more outfits, and each of those outfits has its own pom-poms. Messing up any belt, boot, buckle, or pom-pom is pretty easy. Doesn’t matter. It still means docked pay. Being forgetful isn’t acceptable in the NFL.
Mimic Celebrities Required
Not for every team, of course, but some teams tell their cheerleaders that they need to look like a celebrity. It isn’t enough that they must look “glamorous” at all times, but they apparently also have to be a look-a-like. Insiders have reported being given a photograph with the details of “look like her.”
Depending on what the celebrity looks like, the cheerleader may have to deal with some pretty difficult appearance changes. It can include anything from getting hair extensions and stage makeup (which they can’t touch up) to literal lip injections to make their lips bigger. We’ve mentioned it before, but we want to reiterate that they pay for all this out of their own pocket.
Have to Show Up to Unpaid Events
You’re sensing a theme here, right? Being a cheerleader isn’t that great since they don’t get paid anything, they can get docked pay for the smallest things, and they’re paid almost nothing. As if that wasn’t enough, cheerleaders are also required to show up for events whether they’re paid or not.
The NFL will regularly schedule appearances and other events that require the cheerleaders to show up. During this event, they may not receive any compensation. Not showing up could actually cost them quite a bit of money. What would you do if your boss told you to show up and specified that you wouldn’t be paid for the day?
No Sweets Allowed
Staying a proper weight is all about calories in versus calories out, but NFL handbooks go further than that. If a trainer or upper-level boss says a cheerleader can’t eat sweets, she really can’t eat sweets. One cheerleader spilled the beans on how restricting and mind-screwy these diets can be.
This cheerleader had been reprimanded for gaining weight. Well, she was working toward losing weight, and she recounted a situation where her choreographer told her that she couldn't eat cookies. The next day, that very same choreographer offered her a cookie just to make sure she refused it. We get saying no, but to test her like that? Crazy.