Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cheerleading is not Euvoluntary?

Deadspin longform piece on NFL cheerleading. Prepare for BATNA disparity.


Evidently, NFL cheerleaders must conform to rather strict guidelines or lose the gig. And the effective hourly rates are straddling the minimum wage line (a point I find tendentious having been in the military where the effective hourly wage for round-the-clock duty days gets in kissing distance of single-digit percentages of the MW). For cheerleading, pro sports is vaguely akin to a monopsony buyer of labor, but only vaguely since you'd have a hard case that cheerleading skills are ever meant to be durable (few accredited universities have cheerleading majors). And the competition is certainly there:
For anyone fed up with constant pressure, scant pay for tons of work, and the requirement that you build your entire schedule around a seasonal part-time job, there's the omnipresent threat of being kicked off the team. "If you don't fall in line and suck it up," says the cheerleader, "there's someone else dumb enough that would replace you."
"Dumb enough". A curious accusation, this. This endeavor appears to be highly competitive, so do all these aspiring cheerleaders form a horde of ignorant bimbos? Maybe I've gotten more compassionate as I age, but I would strongly hesitate to cast aspersions like this. Before calling someone "dumb", I think I'd prefer to gather stronger evidence. Particularly since the women that tend to land gigs like these tend to use the money for university tuition. Though, to be fair, perhaps college attendance is not necessarily the indicator of intellectual quality it might be under other circumstances.

I predict that when it comes to generating a lot of public sympathy, this is a lead balloon. NFL cheerleaders are attractive young women with good career prospects. And as the last graf notes:
Mostly, they do it for Sundays. "The gameday experience—that's what keeps people coming back," says the former cheerleader, who even now gets wistful thinking about those moments on the sideline before kickoff, watching players hype themselves up, looking down the tunnel and seeing Ray Lewis doing his trademark dance. There's nothing quite like it.
In-kind compensation. The sort of in-kind compensation that is unavailable working for any other employer. Frankly, I'm sort of surprised the NFL doesn't charge cheerleaders to be on the field.

1 comment:

  1. I similarly see articles from time to time, complaining about exploitative contracts for musical acts. As if the kid trying to be the next Keith Richards is in it for the generous 401(k) benefits.


Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?