Photo: Back Page Images/REX USA.
Over the past few months, NFL cheerleaders have come forward to expose a darker side to their industry. Five women have sued their respective teams over low wages and invasive policies, drawing attention to the ugly side of the seemingly glamorous profession. It's hard to imagine how the situation could get any more controversial. Yet, a new app from the NFL just thickened the plot.
The NFL has partnered with developer Experience to create a new in-stadium app for fans. Among the many features (birthday messages, on-field, pre-game visits) is a chance to request an in-seat visit from the cheerleaders. Considering that these women have spent the better part of this year trying to fight against this kind of objectification, this seems almost unbelievable.
According to Sports Business Daily, the Atlanta Falcons were one of the first clubs to test the app last season with their season-ticket holders. They averaged about 800 experiences sold per game. Teams can customize the options offered to suit their needs, which is concerning for cheerleaders, some of whom have already been quite literally auctioned off to fans.
Though the league's intention is undoubtedly to foster team spirit with cheerleader meet-and-greets, the on-demand service for these women feels high risk. What's to stop an inebriated fan from getting handsy? Several cheerleaders have stated they waited so long to report — or failed to report at all — the sexist conditions under which they work because they feared losing their jobs. A member of the team's staff will reportedly be present for each cheerleader visit to the stands. And, while some may argue this is simply a chance for a family photo opp, past experience leaves us feeling like this is just another case of objectification. (ESPN)