Questionnable Rules NFL Cheerleaders Have To Follow
1 A ‘Jiggle Test’ Determines If Their Bodies Are Fit Enough
All normal human bodies have a little bit of jiggle. In fact, it’s unnatural for bodies not to jiggle. But apparently, the Buffalo Bills have shockingly unrealistic standards for their cheerleaders. The NFL cheer squad previously sued their employers, revealing a bunch of ridiculous rules in the process.
As revealed in the lawsuit, each week the cheerleaders went through a physical evaluation that determined how much their bodies jiggled. If the people in charge determined a cheerleader jiggled too much, she would be penalized in some way and sometimes dismissed from the team altogether. With rules like that, it’s no surprise the cheerleaders took their complaints to court.
2 They Can’t Change Their Appearance
Once a cheerleader is hired by the NFL, she basically surrenders the rights to her entire appearance. Upon hiring, an NFL cheerleader is informed she’s no longer allowed to change any aspect of her physical appearance without direct approval from her boss.
However, this rule doesn’t just apply to big changes, such as dying their hair an entirely different color. The cheerleaders aren’t even allowed to cut their hair without permission. Imagine having to check with your boss before making an appointment at the salon! At the same time, cheerleaders can’t get new piercings or even develop skin conditions, such as acne. If any changes arise, natural or otherwise, the cheerleader’s job may be at risk.
3 Underwear Isn’t Encouraged
When it comes to performing in their cheer uniforms, obviously cheerleaders have to follow some guidelines to make sure they look their best. However, the teams took it one step further and decided to determine what the cheerleaders should wear under their clothes.
On the Cincinnati Bengals, underwear isn’t encouraged, even during practice. For some reason, the team thought the women might not perform their best while wearing underwear. Instead, the cheerleaders were encouraged to wear pantyhose that matched their skin tone. While that may be suitable for performances, it’s going a little too far to decide what the girls are allowed to wear while simply practicing their routines.
4 They Have To Follow Strict Social Media Rules
Professional cheerleaders don’t just have to be on their best behavior while they’re on the field or at practice. Many teams actually go to great lengths to police the cheerleaders’ behaviors in their personal lives. This includes rules about what the cheerleaders can post on social media.
In 2018, Bailey Davis was fired from the New Orleans Saints for posting a picture on her private Instagram of herself in a one-piece outfit. According to the team, the post violated the social media rules, which declared cheerleaders couldn’t post anything in the nude or wearing lingerie. For this offense, Davis was fired from the team after three seasons.
5 Only Certain Hygiene Products Are Approved
As if controlling the cheerleaders’ weight and outward appearance isn’t enough, some NFL teams also try to control which cleansing products the women can use in the privacy of their own home. In the Buffalo Bills’ cheerleader handbook, an entire section was dedicated to which products cheerleaders were allowed to used to cleanse themselves.
According to the handbook, scented or chemically enhanced products were a no-no, especially on the women’s private areas. If the cheerleaders broke this invasive rule, they could face consequences all the way up to being eliminated from the team.
6 Sitting During Games Is Banned
Cheerleading is no joke. While people still struggle to consider it a real sport, there’s no question these ladies demand a lot from their bodies. While they must be physically fit to carry out their routines, game days in general are very taxing on the cheerleaders.
Some NFL teams require that cheerleaders stay standing for the entirety of the game. While the players get to rest on the bench when they’re not playing, cheerleaders must stay up and moving for all four quarters. They’re only allowed to sit if ordered to by an official. Otherwise, they may face consequences for resting.
7 They’re Not Allowed To Interact With Players
Even though cheerleaders are hired to support the football team, they’re not allowed to interact with the players in any way. On the New Orleans Saints, there’s a rule that forbids the cheerleaders from fraternization with the players, both in-person and online. That means cheerleaders aren’t allowed to even follow the players on Instagram, despite accompanying them to games and being in close physical proximity to them for the majority of their jobs.
Even more infuriating, the rule doesn’t apply to football players. The cheerleaders must block all the players on Instagram. If a football player does reach out to a cheerleader online, she would be held liable for the contact since she didn’t block him. Cheerleaders are also told to explicitly avoid players by not dining at the same restaurants. If a player arrives at a restaurant where a cheerleader is eating, the cheerleader must leave or risk getting in trouble, while the player is allowed to enjoy his meal.
8 Don’t Primp In Public
Looking as perfect as NFL cheerleaders do takes a lot of effort. But despite knowing this fact, some NFL teams want to uphold the illusion that their cheerleaders just roll out of bed looking fabulous. To this end, the Raiders included a guideline for their cheer team that states the women aren’t allowed to primp in public.
Specifically, the cheerleaders should not mess with their uniform, makeup, or hairstyle in any kind of public location. Instead, if they need to make a change, they should go to the restroom. That means no quick fixes or makeup checks, otherwise, the cheerleaders may face some kind of penalty.
9 They Must Arrive At Stadium Five Hours Before Kickoff
Again, cheerleaders aren’t paid very well. In fact, most women on NFL cheer squads aren’t paid much above the minimum wage. But despite this small salary, NFL cheerleading is a huge time commitment. Although cheerleaders have nothing to do until the start of the game, the Carolina Panthers demand that their entire cheer squad arrive at the stadium five hours before kickoff.
What the cheerleaders do for that large chunk of time before the game is unknown. But the huge time requirement takes away from their personal time and often means a lot of waiting around until the game starts. Plus, games themselves can often last five hours or more, leading to 10 to 12-hour days for the exhausted cheerleaders.
10 Changing Into Personal Attire Is Prohibited
If we had to guess, we’d say cheerleading outfits probably aren’t that comfortable. They certainly don’t look like they’re pleasant to wear for hours on end. But despite the long days demanded by NFL cheer squads, the girls still aren’t allowed to relax once the game is over.
The Carolina Panthers have a rule that their cheerleaders are not allowed to change into their personal clothes until they’ve left the stadium. After cheering and being on their feet for hours on end, the women can’t throw on a pair of sweatpants and head home. Instead, they have to stay in their cheer outfit until they can embrace comfier clothing in a more private setting.
11 They Can’t Talk About Themselves
NFL teams can regulate what cheerleaders wear on and off the field, who they interact with, and even what they talk about. Certain NFL teams explicitly state that cheerleaders should always be friendly and talkative when approached. At the same time, the teams have quite a list of subjects that cheerleaders aren’t allowed to talk about.
The cheerleaders aren’t allowed to talk about the weather or make inappropriate jokes. While that doesn’t seem too bad, the guidelines go a step further and state the cheerleaders aren’t allowed to bring up personal issues or even talk about themselves. That doesn’t leave many options on the table for carrying out an interesting conversation.
12 They Can’t Use Slang
In addition to not talking about themselves, cheerleaders must also be mindful of the way they talk. Certain cheer handbooks stated that cheerleaders should not use slang. The words that were considered “slang” included “dude,” “ain’t,” and “like.”
Beyond not using slang, they also forbid the cheerleaders from talking negatively or expressing their opinions. In other words, cheerleaders were to be seen and not heard.
13 Hide Body Piercings And Tattoos
Cheerleaders aren’t allowed to look anything less than flawless and completely uniform. Therefore, body piercings and tattoos are strictly prohibited. When it comes to game day, cheerleaders must hide or take out all their body piercings and tattoos.
Most times, this requires covering tattoos with a large amount of special makeup. To ensure all the cheerleaders are following protocol, they often have to have their bodies thoroughly checked over before they’re allowed to perform.
14 Professional Manicures Are A Must
Doing your nails at home isn’t a thing for NFL cheerleaders. While most professional cheerleaders aren’t paid very well, they’re still required to professionally maintain their nails. That means trips to the nail spa every couple of weeks to keep their hands in tip-top shape.
Of course, the expense of getting your nails done adds up over time. What’s more, cheerleaders aren’t allowed to let their nails grow out or put off their touch-ups for a couple of weeks. Instead, their nails must always look perfectly manicured, which can be an expensive and time-consuming project.
15 They Must Be Within 3 Pounds Of Their Ideal Weight
Within professional cheerleading, having your body policed by outsiders is just the name of the game. While weight often fluctuates for most normal people from day to day, NFL cheerleaders have to ensure that their weight stays practically the same, always.
The Cincinnati Bengals demand that their cheerleaders be within three pounds of their ideal weight. Any changes are monitored via regular weigh-ins. If the cheerleader falls outside of this range during a weigh-in, her job may be at risk.
16 Girls Are Forced To Wear Two-Piece Outfits On Tuesdays
Cheerleaders often wear outfits that are a little more *ahem* revealing. However, these outfits aren’t just limited to the uniforms they’re required to wear for games. If cheerleaders are uncomfortable exposing their midriffs, they better get over it if they want to join the Oakland Raiderettes.
On this NFL cheer squad, two-piece Tuesdays are a must. During Tuesday practice, the cheerleaders are required to wear an outfit that exposes their midriff. If they fail the comply with the interesting rule, they are fined $10.
17 They Must Follow Particular Dining Etiquette
Cheerleaders aren’t often eating while doing their jobs. In fact, being on their feet and cheering for their team prohibits them from eating. But the fact that dining isn’t part of the job doesn’t keep the Raiders from outlining specific etiquette for their cheerleaders.
According to the NFL team, the Raiderettes should adhere to a certain etiquette when eating, whether they’re representing the football team or not. The guidelines include rules that state bread should be broken with your hands, and all food should be passed to the right. With this rule, cheerleaders can’t even eat without worrying about their jobs being safe.
18 It’s Their Responsibility To Determine If Players Are Married
While some NFL teams, like the New Orleans Saints, have strict no-fraternization policies, other teams acknowledge that the cheerleaders are bound to get involved with the players. In the case of the Raiders, the team doesn’t encourage the cheerleaders to get involved with men on the team. If the women do decide to date a player, however, the NFL team makes it clear that it’s their responsibility to ensure the relationship isn’t crossing any lines.
The Raiders advised their cheerleaders to call the main office before dating a player to determine if the man was married. Not only did the team make it clear that it’s the cheerleader’s responsibility to determine a player’s marital status, but they also directly claimed that many players would lie about whether they were married or not. Even if the player lies, however, the cheerleader will get in trouble if she ends up dating a married man.
19 They Had To Pay For Calendars Out Of Their Own Pockets
While not paying their cheer squad very much, the Buffalo Bills found an innovative way to make things even harder for their cheerleaders financially. The NFL team demanded that cheerleaders sell 50 calendars per season. However, the Bills forced the cheerleaders to pay for the calendars upfront, out of their own pockets.
At $10 each, that means each cheerleader forked over $500 for calendars they didn’t even want. The cheerleaders could then sell the calendars for $15. While they were allowed to keep the profit, they didn’t get their money back if they failed to sell all the calendars.
20 They Must Always Be Camera-Ready
Cheerleaders always seem to look flawless, and that’s no accident. The cheerleaders for the Raiders must sign a contract which states, in part, that they must always look their best, whether they’re cheerleading or not.
According to the contract, the Raiderettes are always supposed to look fabulous. By always looking put-together, the Raiderettes uphold an image of the perfect NFL cheerleaders. That means no runs to the grocery store in sweats for these girls.