A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem @ Tribeca Film Festival

A documentary which shines a spotlight on the NFL and its active engagement in wage theft and illegal employment activities it engages in when it comes to cheerleaders.

Throughout the 85 minutes of the documentary we follow several former cheerleaders and see their legal and personal struggles with their teams. Besides the fact that the NFL and the teams definitely do not come off looking very good, what is rammed home time and time again is the fact that women’s work has never been valued. It reflects the fight that women in all sectors of the work world have been battling for.

Total education for me! Though the more I think about the more I should not have been surprised. Shouldn’t be surprised that women were just being used to sell the game. Used as adornments, but not having any real value attached.

For Pete’s sake, they are not asking for NFL players salaries, but minimum wage. Not really even enough to make a living off of. They even make less than the mascots do! It is ridiculous!

Lacy was a cheerleader with the Oakland Raiders. She was a dancer so tried out for the cheerleading team. Once she made it she was told to look a certain way and buy her own uniform. All her expenses came out of her own pocket. They only got paid at the end of the season. After her first season, Lacy sued the Raiders for pay.

The NFL is thought of as untouchable due to its popularity. It is a billion dollar industry. American obsession with beautiful women and football creates a perfect storm. A storm in which the women who are doing work are swept up in. The NFL is all about power. There men have all the power. The league has an image problem when it comes to women. Sexism and domestic violence have long been associated with the NFL. It is allowed to continue.

Lacy’s story repeats again and again. Maria is part of the Jills the cheerleading team for the Buffalo Bills. They are a big part of the community. Had to pay $600 for her uniform. Owner bought the team for $1.4 billion and did not pay the cheerleaders. In 2014, Maria and five other cheerleaders file a class action suit against the team.

Amazingly some other former cheerleaders are not behind them and the class action suits. They argue that it is a privilege to be an NFL cheerleader. You are part of a sisterhood. Not about the money. Sounds like a few privileged types speaking who obviously don’t need the money and don’t think others do to survive.

Bottom line is that all work matters. Question is why would a billion dollar do this nickle and dime kind of stuff? Because it devalues women. Despite the lawsuits they don’t seem to have gotten the message. No apologies have ever been issued by teams. Women continue to fight for league-wide change.

World premiere at Tribeca.

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