Importing poor sexy foreigners

NFL (and other US) cheerleaders are paid pretty badly:

“You get this prestigious job dancing for the Warriors and you go home, and think: Hey, I’m making $10 an hour! It’s like working at Wendy’s,” said Lisa Murray, 28, a former N.B.A. dancer who is supporting the nationwide push for a minimum wage and benefits, and one day a union.

and have pretty brutal working conditions:

So it is with cheerleaders, the N.F.L.’s dancing lumpen proletariat. For years, these women labored off the radar of enforcers of modern wage and hour laws. Many had body fat monitored, along with menstrual cycles and private lives. Teams paid stipends, describing the cheerleading squads as clubs, like the Elks in leotards.

In the world beyond the castle that is the N.F.L., this is known as wage theft.

Now they’re trying to change that, suing for damages and legal changes. So what do the Miami Dolphins do in best capitalist fashion?

[L]ooking for cheerleaders in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico

according to Yahoo Sports. Preying on those with a lower standard of living in making them believe that their lot might improve in the US:

Leaving one of the poorest cities in Brazil at 5 a.m., 20-year-old student Luciane Lima traveled from Sao Goncalo to a Copacabana hotel two hours away to join 300 women at an unusual audition in the land of soccer: Cheerleader for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
[…]
In exchange for injecting a touch of samba into the Dolphins’ cheerleading team, they hope to start new lives in the United States.

Let’s contrast that with the hopes of US citizens:

Lacy Thibodeaux grew up in southern Louisiana, football country in all of its humid and insane passions.

She married, moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and became a dancer for the Golden State Warriors. It paid minimum wage. Then she tried out as a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders.

That was a dream.

Thibodeaux made the Raiderette squad. She took long drives to Napa Valley for the calendar photo shoot. She invested, as directed, in expensive hair colorings. Practices stretched for hours. She made 10 required appearances at sponsor events.

After a few weeks, her husband asked: Lacy, where’s your paycheck?

“The team told me we get paid at the end of the season, $125 per game,” Thibodeaux recalled. “They paid nothing for travel expenses, mandatory promo events or calendar shoots.”

She said, “My contract was highly illegal.”

Again, this is a US citizen, that is to say someone who has more rights (and more leverage) than someone will have who is there on a working visa (or even a green card). Building a base for a life in the US based on a below-minimum wage job is going to be hard, unless the longer-term plan is to find someone to marry or provide materially in some form. Trying to get better conditions risks having the employment terminated and being sent back.

All in all, disgusting, or in other words: par for the course for the NFL.

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This entry was posted in exploitation, gender, professional sports, workers' rights. Bookmark the permalink.

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