Being an NFL cheerleader sounds like a miserable job -- if you cheer for the Oakland Raiders, at least.
The Raiders are currently being sued by a former cheerleader for breaking numerous labor laws, and if her claims are true, it's hard to believe anyone chooses to do this job. Not only are the women paid peanuts (according to the LA Times' Robin Abcarian, "$1,250 for a 10-game season, plus three practices per week, plus at least 10 public appearances, plus participation in the Raiderettes calendar photo shoot"), but they also also have to follow an absurd set of rules.
Abcarian allegedly got her hands on the Oakland Raiders cheerleaders' secret handbook -- and some of the guidelines are truly mind-boggling.
Here are six of the most condescending and outright ridiculous points:
- How to eat food in front of other people is, apparently, “one of the most intimidating areas of etiquette.” But don't worry, there's a solution for everything. “If you don’t like your meal, try a little of everything and strategically move the rest around your plate.”
- The women are reminded that when they get up from the table, "Don’t forget to say ‘Excuse me.’”
- Dating Raiders players is not expressly forbidden, but highly discouraged. And if you're a Raiderette, the responsibility for said fraternizing falls squarely on your shoulders. “Make a point to find out if a player is married," the handbook says. "In most cases, he won’t tell you! You can call the Raider office with questions about marital status and I encourage you to do so. Again, he will not tell you he’s married!” Because making sure a romantic interest isn't already married to someone else is solely the woman's job. Got it.
- The handbook also makes it clear that the cheerleaders are to make sure no one is talking about them. "DO NOT BECOME THE TOPIC OF CONVERSATION IN THE LOCKER ROOM AND/OR BY THE RAIDER STAFF. WE EVENTUALLY HEAR EVERYTHING.”
- Also, the guidelines imply that Raiders players are potential rapists who can't be trusted to party with Raiderettes without potentially assaulting them -- and, more importantly from the handbook's perspective, destroy the reputation of the team. Again, the onus for preventing these assaults is on the cheerleaders:
[We] have also had situations where, quite frankly, the Raider organization and the Raiderettes narrowly escaped ruined reputations. One such example concerns a player who gave Halloween parties every year and many of the Raiderettes attended. This same player was suspended from the team for drug use but also arrested for date rape. For you on the squad who have attended those parties, just think how narrowly you missed having your photo in all the local papers and/or being assaulted.
- Above all else, Raiderettes are told to check their egos. "You need to learn to deal with attention you receive from the public (and especially the players) without it getting out of hand and going to your head.”
In review: have perfect manners, look flawless, avoid being assaulted, stay humble, and get paid nothing. What a fantastic deal!
Head over to the LA Times to read more about the Raiderettes' handbook.