Among the more disgusting stories you’ll hear today involves the Washington football team and how they treat their cheerleading squad. A report in the New York Times today should make your skin crawl a bit.
The cheer squad went with team officials to a resort in Costa Rica for their annual calendar photo shoot. Along with having their passports taken away by team officials when they arrived, this happened.
For the photo shoot, at the adults-only Occidental Grand Papagayo resort on Culebra Bay, some of the cheerleaders said they were required to be topless, though the photographs used for the calendar would not show nudity. Others wore nothing but body paint. Given the resort’s secluded setting, such revealing poses would not have been a concern for the women — except that the Redskins had invited spectators.
A contingent of sponsors and FedExField suite holders — all men — were granted up-close access to the photo shoots.
But being gawked at while naked by a bunch of dudes as a ‘perk’ (so to speak) wasn’t the end of it. A handful of them were selected as trophy dates.
One evening, at the end of a 14-hour day that included posing and dance practices, the squad’s director told nine of the 36 cheerleaders that their work was not done. They had a special assignment for the night. Some of the male sponsors had picked them to be personal escorts at a nightclub.
“So get back to your room and get ready,” the director told them. Several of them began to cry.
“They weren’t putting a gun to our heads, but it was mandatory for us to go,” one of the cheerleaders said. “We weren’t asked, we were told. Other girls were devastated because we knew exactly what she was doing.”
Their participation did not involve sex, the cheerleaders said, but they felt as if the arrangement amounted to “pimping us out.” What bothered them was their team director’s demand that they go as sex symbols to please male sponsors, which they did not believe should be a part of their job.
This is not an out of nowhere practice by team owner Dan Snyder, who is known for doing controversial things. As the report notes, in one contest ‘five lucky fans’ would get their cars washed by members of the cheer squad. Then there was the classy bit on the website in which fans could vote between two cheerleaders much like the terrible frat ‘hot or not’ game Mark Zuckerberg came up with in college as detailed in the film ‘The Social Network’ that was essentially his inspiration for facebook.
Snyder is basically a horrible piece of human waste product. Of all the cheer squad controversies over the past few years — most involving shockingly low pay, including the one involving the Raiderettes — this is probably the worst. Which is saying a lot. And I hope they sue the living shit out of Snyder and the organization for it.