An integral part of the chain constructing the US National Hockey League is of course, the cheerleaders. Without them, the game would be less glamorous, less entertaining, and the crowds less enthused. However what do we really know about them, behind their “ice girl” persona?
We know that the glamour is a mere layer, peeled back by recent investigations by Mother Jones magazine which revealed the strict conditions and humiliation of the job. Ex-member of the Philadelphia Flyers actually compared their working conditions to a “torture camp,” because they are forced to work in sub-zero temperatures wearing little more than a few bits of material, and it is forbidden for them to wear jackets on the pitch.
However rules of the job do not just stretch over working hours. They are also not allowed to wear jackets off the pitch, be seen eating in public, or be in the same room or restaurant as a player. They are only paid £9 ($15) per hour for corporate events and less at a hockey match, but are expected to spend around $300 a month on their make-up and hair.
There have been many recent lawsuits for employment violations, although the US department of labor did state that cheerleaders were not entitled to the same rules about minimum wage because their work is only seasonal. Despite this, the amount of lawsuits being faced by clubs has been detrimental.
Buffalo Bills was forced to suspend its cheerleading program because 5 former members of The Jills squad filed a lawsuit. One of the allegations made was that they were subjected to a weekly “jiggle test.” This involved an assessment of their bums whilst performing jumping jack exercises. They were also given a cheerleading handbook which stated things like never use deodorant or a chemically enhanced product, and when menstruating use the correct product for your flow. There were also issues with unpaid hours.
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