Monday, 5 May 2014

Cheerleader Rights

From the BBC

Most Raiders and Jills cheerleaders make around $100 (£60). Bengals cheerleaders get $90. They receive no compensation for time spent practising or working at events. Only one club, the Seattle Seahawks, has said they pay cheerleaders an hourly wage and overtime.

In the end, says Sharon Vinick, the lawyer representing the Raiderettes, it doesn't matter that there are thousands of women lining up to do the job or that they get perks associated with the NFL.

The NFL isn't just about football. It's about pageantry and spectacle, and above all, commerce, bringing in $9bn (£5.3bn) last year. The cheerleaders, she says, should get their share.

One of the things that we often like to discuss on this blog is about monopoly rights (land, patents, spectrum) because of the value they produce, and this story pretty much fits in with it.

If you look at something like the NFL, there are all sorts of people that have to pay to be there. The guy selling hot dogs and beer at a stadium will have to pay a fortune for the right to do so. Why should he? Without someone selling hot dogs and beer, football matches wouldn't be as much fun for people. The NFL needs people to sell beer so why isn't he also getting a share of that $9bn revenue? The reason is that lots of people want the concession, will make a lot of money from being there and so ultimately the NFL collects the rent from the guy selling beer and burgers (and this is generally a much better model than companies trying to run their own concessions).

In the case of cheerleaders it's more of a symbiotic relationship, like a celebrity appearing on a chat show. Very little money changes hands (an appearance fee), but both parties get something from it. The celebrity gets to plug their film or book and in exchange, the show gets an entertaining guest that draws in viewers. So, while cheerleaders have to train and entertain the crowd, they also get the rights to be one of a tiny number of franchise holders that can turn up at an event as a legitimate Bengals cheerleader and make some money from it.

6 comments:

Mark Wadsworth said...

Totally agreed on the economics, but in order to enlighten our readers, why not embed a YouTube video of some cheerleaders in action, just to set the scene?

The Stigler said...

Good point - edited to include a photo of one of the empowered women of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad.

Woodsy42 said...

Presumably these cheerleaders have the right to go elswhere or quit if they feel they are underpaid - what other right do they need?

The Stigler said...

Woodys42,

Well, exactly.

The problem nowadays is that people just pull this sort of crap all the time. "I was a victim".

And it's often I think because people took a bet on their future that didn't work out. Maybe some of them thought they'd find a football player for a husband or get a modelling contract rather than earning the odd $500 doing appearances.

If these women win, that'll be the end of the cheerleading squads in pro American Football. They're like having the national anthem sung before the FA Cup Final. You quite like it, but you won't turn over if it's not there.

Kj said...

Yes, yes, the economics behind it is true, and the court case is nonsense. But what is it about these americans and the schizophrenic approach to these things; an abundant supply of people accepting shit pay and harassment for some vague promise of fame and fortune on one side, and the regret and inevitable court-cases in the other end.

Bayard said...

"an abundant supply of people accepting shit pay and harassment for some vague promise of fame and fortune on one side, and the regret and inevitable court-cases in the other end"

they're two sides of the same coin. The people who are prepared to accept "shit pay and harassment for some vague promise of fame and fortune" will also prepared to take shit and hassle for some vague promise of fortune by a lawyer in a trumped up legal case.