World of Sport

The cheerleaders who are striking over pay and the ‘jiggle test’

World of Sport

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The Buffalo Bills have had cheerleaders at their NFL games for over 50 years but will start the season, which begins next month, without them after the squad suspended all activities.

The actions of the Buffalo Jills (see what they did there?) came after five of the squad filed a law suit earlier this year complaining about their pay and some of the shocking working conditions they are subjected to

Buffalo is in the state of New York, where there is a minimum wage of $8-an-hour (£4.20), but the cheerleaders claim they are paid way below that amount.

According to the Daily Telegraph earlier this week, the cheerleaders get an estimated £1.80 per hour for their performances, and that is before all the preparation time and training is taken into consideration.

It is here where perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the story comes in.

When the Jills filed their lawsuit, American sports website Deadspin obtained the Jills''Etiquette Hygiene Rules' and 'Codes of Conduct' for last season which included information about what tampons to use, how to keep "intimate areas" fresh, and instructions about how they should "not be overly opinionated about anything."

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What's more, the cheerleaders claim that they were subjected to a weekly "jiggle test" which is exactly what it sounds like.

One of the plaintiffs, Alyssa U, told the Huffington Post: "One week prior to the game, we were to dress in our uniforms and stand before our coach, who had a clipboard in her hand, and we had to face forward, turn around, face back to the front and do about 10 jumping jacks. And from there, she would write down on her notepad what parts of our bodies jiggled," she said.

The women were judged on, amongst other things,  the firmness of their "butt, thighs, back, stomach", and warned they were not "field ready" if they had two check marks against their name, while they would be prevented from performing at all if they had three checks.

Cheerleading is an American sporting tradition dating back to the 19th century although initially it was an all-male activity and women did not join in until 1923.

It increased in popularity during the second world war but the current look of the NFL cheerleaders did not come in until the 1970s, when the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading squad started wearing the revealing outfits that helped them become a national phenomenon which other teams then copied.

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