Being a Ravens Cheerleader Sounds Pretty Awful

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Photo by Flickr user nflravens
Photo by Flickr user nflravens

Plastering on that big, fake smile must make you kinda mad after a little while. At least that’s my explanation for why one angry former Ravens cheerleader leaked the squad’s 2009 rulebook to Deadspin, which published it yesterday. Here are some of the highlights (lowlights?) from the expose:

+Prospective cheerleaders are weighed at the beginning of tryouts, and are expected to keep to that weight. If they deviate from the “ideal body weight and physical look,” they can get benched for a game; after getting three such “physical appearance suspensions,” they’ll be kicked off the team.

+Every year, cheerleaders get a hair and makeup assessment “in which their look for the season is determined.” They’re expected to keep that same look throughout the season. Even though cheerleaders get a 50 percent discount at a sponsoring salon, women regularly paid upwards of $1,000 out-of-pocket per year to maintain the assigned hair/makeup look.

+Even though everyone knows tanning beds cause cancer, the team provides cheerleaders with vouchers for local tanning salons, and insists that the women “must have a warm skin color tone for every game day.”

+Ravens cheerleaders pose for the annual calendar — and then are required to buy 100 of the calendars at $12 a pop; again, this is out of their own pocket. Male cheerleaders get a break; they only have to buy 20. Cheerleaders are expected to sell the calendars for $15, thus making a whole $300 if they’re lucky.

+Speaking of payment – in 2009, cheerleaders earned $100 per home game. (Captains brought home $125.) If you factor in biweekly three-hour rehearsals and the eight hours they work on game days, that works out to $7.14 an hour. Things have improved, however — the Ravens now pay their cheerleaders a whopping $7.75 (aka minimum wage) for all rehearsals and performances.

+Of course, cheerleaders can also profit from making appearances. They charge $300 per cheerleader per hour, or $175 if the event is charity-related. Of that, about $50 per hour goes to the cheerleader herself.

+The cheerleaders are expected to perform for free at various charity events set up by either the Ravens or the NFL as a whole. According to regulations, these free events can happen up to twice a month.

+Any cheerleader who hopes to parlay this job into some other acting/modeling career had better watch out; she’s required to get official approval for any other work.

Sounds pretty miserable, I have to admit.


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