Where would professional sports be without cheerleaders? No, seriously we are asking what you think about this. Sure, it can be fun to watch the random performances of guys and mascots using trampolines to do acrobatic slam dunks during the intervals of basketball games. But what would football fans in a stadium do if there were no cheerleaders to hype them up every time the game was paused or there was a timeout? Sure, the sport would probably go on and find another way to entertain the minds of folks waiting for the next tackle, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Cheerleaders have become a vital part of almost every single professional sport in North America. Not even just professional sports, even in high school and college it is nearly impossible to fathom sporting events without cheerleaders. They might not get recognized much of the time, but people have to agree that cheerleaders are an important part of the sporting entertainment industry.
Still, even if we acknowledge their importance, there is a lot about the profession of being a cheerleader that fans do not know of. And that is exactly what we want to talk to you about. Most notably, we want to tell you about 15 ridiculous rules you had no idea NFL cheerleaders have to follow. You might want to think it is easy to go out there and do flips, shake pom-poms, and hype up the crowd every day, but it turns out that are a lot of crazy rules that these women have to follow.
15 Jiggle Jiggle
Let’s just start off by saying that some of the rules we found NFL teams impose on their cheerleaders are ridiculous. Still, few of them are as messed up as this first one. When a group of former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders decided to sue their previous employers, a bunch of rules they had to follow surfaced. One of these insane measures that the public found out about was a weekly physical evaluation that the cheerleaders had to go through in order to maintain their status.
What this evaluation consisted of was a test to measure how much the cheerleaders’ bodies “jiggled.” Yes, apparently NFL cheerleading squads are nothing more than old-school sorority hazing camps. For the sake of closure, we have to add that depending on the results of the test cheerleaders could be penalized, suspended, or even dismissed.
14 Weight Watchers
If you thought that the “jiggle test” from the Buffalo Bills was an invasive and even disrespectful way of treating their cheerleaders, we would like to talk a little bit about the Baltimore Ravens. Although this was just as messed up as what the Bills did, we have to admit that the Ravens decided to go with a more classic approach on how to “haze” their cheerleaders.
At any given point, both male and female Ravens’ cheerleaders were subject to weigh-ins. Yes, while professional fighters have to do this every time before a fight, cheerleaders apparently had to do them out of the blue. You sure would think twice before eating an extra slice of pizza when “failure to comply with body weight and/or appearance guidelines could result in suspension from the team or game day suspensions.”
13 The Belly Button Fine
Basketball and football players are notorious for getting fined all the time. These guys have to deal with getting fined for unsportsmanlike behaviors, flopping, off the field issues, and a whole bunch of other stuff. However, NFL cheerleaders have to deal with some even more ridiculous reasons for being fined. According to their 2012 etiquette agreement, the Oakland Raiders’ cheerleaders risk being fined $10 if they do not wear clothes that reveal their belly buttons on Tuesdays.
Yes, apparently Tuesdays for the Raiders are known as “two-piece Tuesdays, ” and during that special day, the Raiders’ cheerleaders have to wear a two-piece outfit. And it is not like any two-piece outfit would work. In order to adhere to those standards, it has to be a two-piece that reveals their belly buttons.
12 The Golf Tournament
As this list goes on, you will get a solid sense that working as a cheerleader could give slavery a run for its money. It is not surprising that cheerleaders have been suing NFL teams for the ridiculous conditions they had to endure. Hopefully, most of them will receive the gratification they deserve, because what these women went through was no easy ordeal.
A perfect example of that was what the Buffalo Jills had to endure during their annual golf tournament. This was a huge deal in the class-action lawsuit they brought against the Bills.
Just to name a few of the reasons why that event was a nightmare for them: they had to do things like perform backflips for tips, even though they didn’t receive the money from the tips. They were auctioned off to tournament participants who usually got handsy and inappropriate. And finally, sometimes they were forced to sit on the participants' laps because the golf carts were too small.
11 Cheerleading Patriot Act
Remember how controversial the Patriot Act was, and still is? Most of it was because to some extent it called for the consent of a citizen to be constantly watched by the government. It turns out that NFL cheerleaders have their own take on this subject. According to Deadspin, some cheerleading squads required every participant who had social media networks like MySpace or Facebook to “friend request” their director. So yes, if you were an NFL cheerleader, there was a good chance that someone in the front office was always creeping on your new pictures. But that is not all, ladies and gentlemen. Cheerleaders were also forced to give any email addresses that were associated with their social media profiles. Oh, and don’t even think about doing modeling work for anyone else, because you also needed permission from the team.
10 White Teeth Are a Must
Whether anyone would like to admit it or not, looking beautiful is a vital part of being a cheerleader. It might be mean to say, but cheerleading squads would probably not be as popular as they are if most of the people who were part of them were not drop dead gorgeous. And one would like to think that an NFL team would want to contribute to keeping their cheerleaders looking as good as they possibly can. Well, it turns out that they want their cheerleaders always to look beautiful, but they don’t want to spend a lot of money doing it. Actually, they don’t want to spend any money doing it.
According to some former cheerleaders, the members of cheer squads have to get their teeth whitened regularly, and the cheerleaders who are not naturally tan have to get tans frequently. The problem is that they have to do all of that spending money from their own pockets.
9 Stay Classy
Remember how many times during your youth your mother told you to be a gentleman? Those many times she told you not to eat with your mouth open, be nice to people, and pretty much be a classy human being. Well, it turns out the Oakland Raiders thought it would be a good idea to enforce every single aspect of keeping it classy in their etiquette agreement a few years ago.
If it was already annoying for you to have your mom telling you to do things right and be educated, imagine how infuriating it must have been to the Oakland Raiders’ cheerleaders when they received an agreement saying that they should “sit in a ladylike manner.” Yes, the Raiders were telling their cheerleaders how to sit down.
8 The Paradox
We have a little paradox for you guys. We already told you how the Raiders made sure that their cheerleaders knew the perfect way to sit down, right? But what sense does that make when cheerleaders are not really allowed to sit down during games? Yes, this paradox was brought to light when a former Bills cheerleader decided to sue the team with some of her colleagues.
According to what she said, for the most part of a football game in which cheerleaders are not on the field performing their acrobatics, they are instructed to just “always stand and move around.” That is just a very vague way of saying don’t sit down. Apparently, they also instruct that there is one exception in which cheerleaders are allowed to sit down during a game, and that is when “the appearance calls for sitting.”
7 Preparation Is Key
God, don’t we love the Oakland Raiders? If you are someone who already hated the California team, you might just get a little more fuel for that hatred after you finish reading about the stuff they do to their cheerleaders. We have to say, the competition is fierce, but the rules the Raiders have are crazy even when compared to other teams in the NFL.
Another stellar standard with which they prime their cheerleaders to maintain is that cheerleaders should always be ready. By that, we mean that Raiders’ cheerleaders better have everything ready to go before they enter the field, or else… Yes, “Any primping or fussing with your uniform, make-up or hairstyle must be done only in a restroom — never in public. The client assumes you are professional and close to perfect. Be sure you are!”
6 Eat That Soup Right
By now we all understand that NFL teams are very keen on their cheerleaders representing them to the highest standards in every single aspect of life. But these guys need to realize that there is a limit to how much they can influence a person’s life. And while there were a lot of points on this list were that line could have been drawn, this is where they made things the weirdest. As if controlling how a lady sits down were not enough, some NFL teams go to the extreme of making sure that their cheerleaders are eating soup the right way. Yes, you didn’t read that wrong. We said soup. S-O-U-P.
Why would you need to control that? It’s not like everyone doesn’t already know that you should: “Dip the spoon into the soup, moving it away from the body, until it is about two-thirds full, then sip the liquid, without slurping, from the side of the spoon without inserting the whole spoon into the mouth. This prevents soup from being spilled onto your clothes.” Smh…
5 Don’t Date the Players
We told you that the Raiders liked to keep everything under control. A testament to that is that they were keen on making sure that every one of their cheerleaders knew that they should sit down in a “ladylike” manner. But apparently, the way they sit down was not the only thing about their cheerleaders that the Raiders wanted to control with their 2012 etiquette agreement. It turns out that the organization also did not want their cheerleaders getting involved romantically with the players. And the way they put that in the contract was a thing of beauty.
First, the organization made sure to mention that there were instances in which they “narrowly escaped ruined reputations.” Still, that cannot be compared to the example they gave afterward. In writing, they remembered an incident in which a player was suspended for drug use and arrested for date rape for what happened during a Halloween party many cheerleaders attended. And then they reminded their cheerleaders that they should “just think how narrowly you missed having your photo in all the local papers and/or being assaulted!”
4 Better Pick up That Phone
We could not wait until further down the list to tell you about this one. Since we just talked about how the Raiders were not so keen on having their cheerleaders dating players for a number of reasons, it is only fair that we mentioned that they are very helpful to cheerleaders who decide to take this path even though they have been warned.
As a matter of fact, the Raiders encourage their cheerleaders to call the Raider office in order to make sure they know the correct marital status of a player. And that is a hilarious part of their etiquette contract. This little gem in which the organization encourages their cheerleaders to call the office to make sure a player is not married is pure comedy because they make a point in saying that the players will lie and say that they are not married.
Well, this is where we wave goodbye as the ship that contains a cheerleader’s right to privacy sails away into the land of doom that is signing a contract with an NFL team. Perhaps one of the most personal things about a woman’s life is the bodily function of menstruating. Still, no matter how private something can be for a person, it is never private enough that NFL teams don’t think they should have a take on how a cheerleader approaches that function.
There is no way to say it other than to put it out there plain and simple. In their handbook, the Buffalo Jills allegedly tell their members how to properly use a tampon: “When menstruating, use a product that right for your menstrual flow. A tampon too big can irritate and develop fungus. A product left in too long can cause bacteria or fungus build up. Products can be changed at least every 4 hours. Except when sleeping, they can be left in for the night.”
2 Be Gone, Underwear
Going on the same line as tampons, we would be unfair to the class of cheerleaders if we didn’t mention the struggle they face when it comes to wearing underwear. According to a former Cincinnati Bengals’ cheerleader, the team even tried to control what they wore under their practice clothes. For some reason, the Bengals must have thought that wearing underwear under their practice clothes would cause the cheerleaders not to perform to the best of their ability. Or maybe it was something else, but we could not find a solid reason for an employer to tell a woman she is not allowed to wear underwear.
Sorry, they didn’t exactly say they weren’t allowed to wear underwear, they were just not allowed to wear panties (even the thong ones). However, they were authorized to wear “pantyhose to match skin tone,” which are apparently known as L’eggs.
1 Beauty Does Not Rest
Since we liked the Oakland Raiders’ etiquette contract so much, we had to give them the number one spot on our list. And let’s just say that providing most of the content for this list had little to do with this placement. Actually, this last rule would have won the top spot regardless of which team it came from. That is because the Raiders do not ask, they demand that their cheerleaders look perfect all the time. Yes, not only when you’re cheering on the field, but even as you’re walking down the street to the supermarket, if you are a Raiders’ cheerleader you have to look fabulous. Here is a little bit of what they said:
“It is imperative that whenever you leave your home you look "put-together" so when someone recognizes you (and they will), they can say, ‘Raiderettes always look fabulous.’ We’ve all seen the stars in the tabloids that don’t look their best. Cell phone cameras are everywhere — be camera-ready!”