Opinion: Women in the NFL deserve higher wages

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders perform during the second half between the Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, November 3, 2013. The Cowboys defeated the Vikings, 27-23.

Samantha Karam

A Thanksgiving tradition in my house is watching football. As my family carried out this tradition last week, the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders came out to perform. All I could think about was how they probably worked their whole lives to get to that point. Next, I thought: “Is it really worth it?”

These girls are at the top of the food chain in regards to NFL cheerleaders. They are considered the best of the best and they have the ability to entertain stadiums full of rowdy football fans.

The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders are widely regarded as the most prestigious cheerleading squad in the NFL, but their careers aren’t as pristine as you would think.

Cheerleaders put as much time and effort into their jobs as NFL players do, but when you compare the two careers, they’re on complete opposite sides of the spectrum.

A CMT television series called “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders,” highlights the strict audition process the girls endure. The series shows how the girls are criticized for their bodies and how they’re constantly reminded that they are replaceable.

Coaches and talent scouts go out and find football players, then encourage and recruit them. Cheerleaders show up to open auditions and are judged based on a few hours.

One would think that the harder an athlete works, the greater the salary and job security. That’s how it goes for football players, but not so much for NFL cheerleaders. Football players have secure jobs and they’re paid millions.

NFL players sign contracts promising them a set amount of years to play. However, once a girl makes the Dallas Cheerleading squad, she has to re-audition each year, even if they’re the best on the squad.

If girls get injured or miss a rehearsal, they’re cut. Meanwhile, NFL players can sit out an entire season due to injuries and still have a job.

Football players can move up to higher salaries. Cheerleaders have set wages for each home game they perform in.

According to an article from The Atlantic, Cowboys cheerleaders earn $150 per home game. They are not paid for the many rehearsals they’re required to attend either.

ESPN’s website states the Cowboys play eight home games this year. From those eight games, the girls make just $1,200 a year.

According to Spotrac, a website for tracking salaries of professional athletes, Dallas Quarterback Tony Romo has an annual salary of more than $22 million. His salary has consistently increased throughout his career, and even if he gets injured and can’t play, he still has a job making more money than most people would know what to do with.

There are practice teams full of football players who make more than $100,000 and never step on the field once. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders practice for multiple hours a day and perform at every home game, yet they’re denied even minimum wage.

They perform in stadiums full of people. They are viewed through television all over the country and get major street cred in the cheerleading community. That’s quite the honor, but when looking past the wonder of show biz, the most prestigious NFL cheerleaders make less than I do working at Dairy Queen.

The Dallas Cheerleaders work their whole lives to get to wear those glittery cowgirl boots. They perform just eight times a year, but when they do they bring in substantial revenue for the Cowboys. There’s little tangible reward for them and that should change.

Samantha Karam is an opinion writer for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].