Just How Crappy is the Oakland Raiderettes Pay? Let us Count the Ways.

In January, a big to-do was made when members of the Oakland Raiderettes cheer squad filed a lawsuit against the Raiders for their seriously dismal pay. Now, new details from the case are bringing additional maddening revelations to light.

Taking into account time spent at games, charitable appearances and the production of an annual swimsuit calendar, members of the team are estimated to make about $5 an hour. As in, the cost of a Venti Starbucks drink or five crappy doo-dads at the dollar store.

Also, the girls are expected to pay for their own travel, which easily exceeds the $1,250 they make per season, and to buy the cosmetics they're mandated to wear to keep the boys in the stands happy.

This is frustrating for any number of reasons, including the inherent sexism in treating a highly feminine sport as something financially worthless. And we do mean essentially worthless. To assess:

  • Per season, the Raiders' highest-paid football player makes 4,685 times more than a Raiderette. Even the Raiders' lowest-paid players make 324 times more. No one expects the cheer squad to make as much as members of the team, or even close to as much, but seriously? The bench warmers make several hundred times more? (Source: Oakland Raiders 2013 salaries.) 
  • A typical NFL referee makes 138 times more than a Raiderette per season—and that's without having to do promotional appearances or a swimsuit photo shoot...as far as we know. (The 2013 average referee salary was $178,000.)
  • The cost of an overpriced bottle of Bud Light at the Oakland Coliseum? $8. What a Raiderette makes in an hour? $5.
  • Raiderettes make about 400 bucks more per season than ball boys and girls, the children who make sure footballs are kept dry and clean. (Ball boys and girls make up to $50 per game, which for a regular 16-game season equates to $800.)

Listen, I'm sure plenty of the Raiderettes are fine with the way things are, and would say they don't need or want our fired-up feminist concern. They're living out a dream while enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience, they love what they do, etc. etc. But players and referees are also living out a dream while enjoying a once-in-a-lifetime experience and doing what they love to do. They're just making a fair or more-than-fair wage while doing all that other great stuff.

In fact, the whole "I don't need money, I love my job!" refrain is more a female notion than a male one. Women continue to ask for raises less frequently than men and to be spurned when they do. It's all too easy for women to downplay or resign to this sad fact by telling themselves money isn't all that important. Meanwhile, men are demanding a better salary for the same office job or, as the case may be, negotiating several million dollars more for their next football season.

This isn't the fault of the women, of course, but of a system that asks females, whether in business suits or cheerleader costumes, to accept their low-paid lot in life. For this reason, the crusading Raiderettes are fighting the good fight not just for their squad or all NFL cheereladers, but for women everywhere. And that's something to raise a pom-pom to.

Image: BrokenSphere/Wikimedia Commons

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