Play with Fair Rules in the NFL

The NFL continues to deliver an uneven playing field for cheer-leading athletes


Cartoon by Alexa Gamo

NFL cheerleaders might have big smiles and wear skirts, but they are athletes who deserve equal treatment out on and off the football field and work field. National Football League (NFL) cheerleaders are required to follow certain rules and obligations unimaginable to male athletes similarly working under the NFL today, exemplifying what sexism looks like in the 21st century.

These rules vary among individual NFL teams, but many teams ban cheerleaders from following players on social media, restrict cheerleaders’ social media accounts to private, force cheerleaders to block any players’ contact attempts online and require cheerleaders to leave parties or restaurants if a player shows up.

These rules are set in place to prevent cheerleaders from being preyed upon by football players, like in previous cases where NFL cheerleaders have been assaulted or drugged by NFL players at parties.

The NFL is understandably protecting the cheerleaders from some of the football players, with 83 out of the 1,720 active football players facing domestic violence arrests, assault or disorderly conduct according to the Database of NFL Arrests.

Football players are given no such rules, however. If it is the football players who pose a threat to cheerleaders, then the football players should be given these rules and obligations to abide by.

Recently, New Orleans Saints cheerleader, Bailey Davis, was fired in January after posting a picture of herself in revealing attire on her private Instagram. Her posting violated yet another ludicrous code of conduct that prohibits posting nude or seminude pictures in lingerie.

In many cheerleader handbooks there are ridiculous rules and obligations such as how the cheerleaders should shave, the proper use of tampons and what they can and can not wear outside of their job; such as not being allowed to wear sweatpants in public.

These rules pass the line of professionalism at work. It is one thing to advice how an employer should hold themselves out in public for the company’s reputation, but another to go and merely control the tiniest aspects of these women’s lives. Unless the hygiene of that cheerleader is harmful to other cheerleaders,  a woman’s hygiene does not concern the NFL.

This is blatten sexism. NFL teams should not be allowed to dictate the bodies of these women. They should not have the control to make these women have to follow ridiculous and humiliating rules, for the sake of not losing their job. The NFL’s business concerns selling seats at their stadiums, not to these girls’ dignities.

These women are trying to do their job like everyone else and they should not have to put up with the NFL football players interfering with their job, nor being mandated on personal hygiene decisions. The NFL needs to recognize their duty to serve both cheerleaders and football players as employees with equal rules to both parties.