Travis Laurence Naught

Rah! Rah! Rah! Shouldn’t Professional Cheerleaders at Least Make Minimum Wage?

Travis Laurence Naught looks at the popularity of cheerleading, but wonders why professional cheerleaders aren’t acknowledged as athletes and compensated the same?

 

Sports is big business. Men’s sports, especially. And not much signifies men’s sports more than troves of scantily clad women, frequently outnumbering the total number of players in competition, working hard to get the crowd fired up in hopes of rousing the home team to victory.

This movement is started early. Cheerleading camps for children as young as three are hosted by local professional, college, high school, and pedophiliac enthusiasts nationwide. Family members of these children spend exorbitant amounts of money so they can give their kids fodder for future therapy sessions.

But the pictures are, “SO CUTE!”

Daughters are primarily targeted for these egregious spectacles. Halftime audiences, filling their little hearts with positive feedback for exhibitionist traits, plant seeds of addiction in each of them. A person might be surprised to find that the prom queen in their graduating class, who was obviously in love with the quarterback, saintly chaste, fucking near “princess”-like in every fairytale sense of the term, is now the biggest draw at the neighborhood strip joint. Two-for-one dances every Thursday night between midnight and 1:00 a.m. No judgments—I’m actually a little jealous, that’s great money. And so much adoring attention.

No denying, men are also played in this game from childhood on up. Not manly enough to take a hit or score a point? Go be goofy on the sidelines. “Goofy” being a euphemism for, “I can hear the squeak of closet doors in this one’s future.” This brings up an entirely different conversation that would be bound to include Will Ferrell, but now is not the time for that.

Forgive the so far stereotypical, red-state views. They are but a glimpse into the ridiculousness of current professionals in the field of sports that dancers are fighting back against. Case in point: Lauren Herington.

It is no longer enough to be ogled. The thrill of keeping oneself in better shape than most of the athletes who the dancers are representing doesn’t pay the bills. Neither do the meager checks these women are given.

Salary contracts have been approached with caution in the business arena for generations. Minimum wages are based on hourly work, and employers figured out long ago how best to buck that system. According to one USA Today article, the Milwaukee Bucks, an NBA franchise being sued by Ms. Herington, pays members of their troupe approximately half of the state’s $7.25 minimum wage.

Inflation starts in the pocket … wait, that could be taken the wrong way. Living costs are skyrocketing. Several cities across the U.S. have been lobbying for $15.00 per hour minimums. And these are grocery store, fast food, service industry workers who deserve better compensation, thus leading to the ability not to experience poverty. Individuals who have dedicated their entire lives to becoming the best in their field deserve more than the 17-year-old who flicks boogers onto the grill between orders.

But this conversation is largely about hyper-sexualized athletes (and if you don’t believe these women are athletic, you need to do some research) who could just as easily exploit perverted old men out of their pensions. Fucking sexist, elitist society anyway! Movements and body type can be attractive, valuable, AND independent.

Billionaires have been created, and certainly hundreds, if not thousands, of multimillionaires, through the American sports experience. Major leagues in soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball, and football draw from regional minor leagues. No less than five divisions of competitive 4-year universities and innumerable junior colleges sport teams. High schools, middle schools, youth leagues. There is an extracurricular opportunity at every age, for every ability.

And they’re all celebrated! Whether it is fun for the individual performing, or the creepy bastard sitting two rows down wearing headphones and a long coat he has refused to unbutton, it’s mostly harmless.

Now it’s time to even the playing field a bit. Maybe the beautiful people fighting team ownership for more realistic compensation don’t need to be paid as much as the athletes they are helping fans root for, but they definitely have earned the right to more.

 

Travis Laurence Naught

Travis Laurence Naught is an author who happens to be a quadriplegic wheelchair user. Individual poems, stories, and various other material by Travis have been published online (Section 8 Magazine, Empty Sink Publishing, Damfino Press, and others) and in print (Gold Man Review, Lost Coast Review, Empirical Magazine, and more). His first book of poetry, The Virgin Journals (ASD Publishing, 2012), is currently out of print, but copies can still be found. Check out naughtapoet.blogspot.com for more information and original writing by Travis.

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