Miss America has finally retired its antiquated practice of parading women onstage in swimsuits. The National Football League ought to go next.
Actually, a beauty-pageant swimsuit competition is mild compared to what passes for “cheerleading” in the NFL, which dives into its 2018 preseason this week. Besides putting the sexy young performers on the sidelines in bikini-sized costumes, professional football teams have them shake and twerk in ways more akin to pole-dancing than traditional cheerleading.
It’s time to call this out for what it is: demeaning to women and an anachronism that ought to be beneath the male fans to whom this titillating eye candy is served.
Over recent months, we’ve seen the crumbling of any last pretense that these women are out there to lead cheers and pump up fans’ enthusiasm for the action on the field. Reports have spilled out about the performers facing constant groping and verbal come-ons when forced to interact with fans, cheerleaders on Washington’s team being required to parade topless for an all-male group of suite-holders at a photo shoot, and several NFL teams fielding offshoots of their cheerleading squads that don’t even appear on the sidelines; their job is to mingle with the high-rollers in the stadium luxury suites.