A Woman’s Work @ Fox Theatre (Sat. May 4th, 2019)

The NFL in the past has denied a correlation between concussions and blows to the heads of football players. They’ve also insisted that there was no problem with equal pay for NFL cheerleaders. But, the NFL has a problem with equal pay. Director Yu Gu created A Woman’s Work, she set out to prove that cheerleaders work as hard as anyone in a salaried position, no matter how you view them.

In this subject matter, Football and feminism come to blows in this documentary that follows former NFL cheerleaders battling the league to end wage theft and illegal employment practices that have persisted for over 50 years.

A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem, is the 80-minute documentary, filmmaker Yu Gu dives inside the hostile work environment the league’s cheerleaders face. From sexual harassment to wage theft, women from teams nationwide spoke out about about their mistreatment by the NFL. On the “other side of the coin”, there were former alumni cheerleaders who denied any mistreatment, and insisted that they knew what they were “getting into” and refused to join into the class action suit against the NFL.

Lacy Thibideaux Fields was a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiderettes before she filed a lawsuit against the NFL for wage theft in 2014. In the beginning, the job was a dream for Lacy. The Raiderette guidelines were regimented , from approved hair colors and styles, “French nail manicure”, to guidelines for dealing with sexual and romantic advances from players, especially the married ones. Fields and her team worked about 40 hours a week, from practices to gameday, and even volunteered their own time at fundraising events. The catch: Fields and her teammates weren’t paid until the end of the season. And then, for all of their work, each woman’s total pay was only $1,250.

The cheerleader’s job was an honour to some of the alumni and a privilege. Some NFL fanatics don’t think cheerleaders are necessary to enjoy the game at all, but that is a subjective view. Being at an NFL game, we can see how the fans can be an additional bonus to the home team. We can also see how the cheerleaders can “work a crowd” and use the home crowd’s voices, screaming,  volume, energy  and spirit to their advantage. A dishonour to the NFL cheerleaders and let’s keep the legacy alive on “Any Given Sunday!”