HOUSTON, TX-- Last year, the NFL hired their first full-time female referee, Sarah Thomas, and the Arizona Cardinals added their first female assistant coach, Jen Welter. "The beauty of this is that though it's a dream I never could have had," said Welter at the time, "now it's a dream other girls can grow up and have."
Despite these empowering role models for women, the most visible ladies on the field are still the cheerleaders. They're probably not in contention for anyone's Women of the Year list. But hey! Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn) made it last year, so anything's possible.
In this feminist age, are cheerleaders passé? A sexist holdout of days gone by? Six NFL teams got rid of them. Should they all go?
We pretty much know what men would say, so we asked women. "Cheerleaders just don't do anything for me," said Houstonian Luana Whitmarsh. "It's kind of a high school thing."
High schooler Sarah Bates disagrees, "I think cheerleaders are fun and if we had male ones, it would be less bad... It is really just a sport, just as much as football, I think."
Luz Burrows-Henrice says she isn't impressed with professional cheerleaders, "They could do something else that is more entertaining for everybody than having the ladies jumping around or prancing around."
Madeline Adams is a Texans season ticket holder and a student at Rice, "I feel like they really do bring a lot of energy to the game and get people pumped up and excited in moments that they might not be otherwise."
The ladies who shake their pom poms for the Texans would probably agree. They're not in it for the money. Those in the know say NFL cheerleaders barely make minimum wage. They do it because they love it. "It's the best feeling in the whole wide world," Texans cheerleader Sarah M. told us when she joined the dance team.
Some call cheerleaders 'NFL eye candy', but their job is to promote the team. And looking at how many folks show up to watch and meet them at events, we'd say, 'job well done.'
Should women be banned from coaching or reffing in the NFL? No, not if they can do the job. That would be discrimination. So should they banned from cheering if that's what they want to do? Just sounds like another form of discrimination to us.