Beautiful, Desired, Happy and Exploited: The Life of an NFL Cheerleader


National Football League cheerleaders volunteer. They receive a puny per-game honorarium, but nothing for their many hours of rehearsal, or the use of their images for promotion. Can this be squared with basic principles of fairness?

It cannot, but people will try. The cheerleaders  have such glamorous jobs! They are adored, and treated like royalty, or at least Kardashians! They get to date football players, and you know how hot and rich they are, at least until they become senile in their fifties! Most of all, the competition for the cheerleader squads is fierce!  They don’t want to be paid! The job is its own reward!

Weak. Athletes are paid mega-millions of dollars to play the same games they played for years as recreation. Actors receive union-dictated salaries for engaging in the same activities they fought like dogs to do for free in high school, college and community theater. The standard mantra is that joy and fulfillment in life arrives  when you are fortunate enough to be paid for doing what you love, not to be allowed to do what you love so someone else will make a lot of money, while you get dates. The NFL is a money machine, generating billions and paying its management, employees and contractors very well, but they “allow” young women to significantly enhance the NFL brand and  product for little or nothing. The word for this is exploitation. The NFL does it because it can, and the women put up with it because, well, they enjoy it. Continue reading

Q: What Do You Get When You Cross The Cheerleading Prosecutor With President Obama? A: An Unethical Quote of the Week!

“You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake. She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country.”

—- President Obama, introducing California’s attorney general (and a possible future gubernatorial candidate) Kamala Harris, at a party fundraiser in Atherton, a wealthy suburb of San Francisco

Hey, she IS hot! I'd love to see HER shake her pom-poms! What is it she does again?

Hey, she IS hot! I’d love to see HER shake her pom-poms! What is it she does again?

You see, all you nay-sayers, another reason why it is inappropriate and unethical for a prosecutor to prominently display herself in the role of unadulterated male eye candy is that it reinforces this kind of subtle (well, not so subtle, really), insidious marginalization of female professionals that occurs daily in offices and places of business all over America. I have taught this in sexual harassment seminars for decades: when a male boss, manager, or superior references a woman’s attractiveness, beauty, or allure in a public settling, it relegates her and all women in that organization to second-class status, and reinforces the glass ceiling. Women who are the target of this sexist, if often innocently intended, practice are usually lulled by the flattery into dismissing such incidents. That has to change. They must register their objections to the speaker for their own sake and that of generations of women to come. Continue reading

Further Reflections On The Cheerleading Prosecutor (and an Ethics Pop-Quiz!)

"By the way, counselor, nice work last Sunday..."

“By the way, counselor, nice work last Sunday…”

I wrote the post about Ina Khasin, the Fulton County assistant district attorney in the morning yesterday as I prepared for a morning ethics session for new D.C. lawyers, and had not made up my mind about whether there was or was not a legitimate “Cheerleading Prosecutor Principle” by the time I posted it. I returned to my keyboard late in the day to read the comments on the post, and finally had a chance to consider the issue carefully, benefiting from the varying perspective of the commenters. My conclusion is that for a prosecutor to indulge herself by moonlighting in a high-profile, frivolous and cognitive dissonance-generating activity like NFL cheerleading is not only weird (Ick!) but also irresponsible, and yes, unprofessional.

I’m pretty sure I’m right, too. Continue reading

Is There A “Cheerleading Prosecutor Principle”? Apparently Not.


Fulton County (Atlanta) Assistant District Attorney during the week, sultry, pom-pom-waving Atlanta Falcons cheerleader on the weekend, attorney Ina Khasin (That’s her, above) has, at least so far, dispelled my suspicions that there would be “Cheerleading Prosecutor Principle” along the theory behind the “Naked Teacher Principle” and its relatives, which is that when one’s  sex-related internet images clash dramatically with the expectations and duties of one’s profession, one’s days in that profession are numbered. Apparently Khasin shares some of those suspicions, since she cheers under the (sort of) alias “Irina K.” If there’s nothing about the activity that anyone would find inappropriate, why hide the name?

Now I am assuming this is all in the open, approved by her superiors, and no longer an issue. I am also assuming that there might just be some kinds of cases that the DA’s office might not want prosecuted by a professional cheerleader. In any event, Khasin has dewn a bright line between being a lawyer-cheerleader and being a lawyer-dominatrix, which, as you will recall from this story, didn’t work out so well.

This is clearly not the “ick factor” for me, and perhaps more of a “Humunahumuna!” Factor, but I am not yet certain that professional cheerleading is in fact compatible with the ethical obligations of a prosecutor. I am very sure that it would not be consistent with the dignity and decorum requirements of a judge.

I think I’ll just have to look at the evidence for a while…


Facts and Graphic: Above the Law


Worst Sequel Ever: “Cheer Your Rapist II”

The Penn State disease is not restricted to colleges.  Now there comes a lawsuit showing how ugly it is when the contagion hits a high school.

The Southern Columbia Tigers are a real high school football power in Pennsylvania, and naturally the Southern Columbia Area School District and Southern Columbia Area High School Principal James A. Becker wouldn’t do anything to change that…like, for example, barring two rapists from playing on the team when they were so good at scoring the legal way, as well as…well, you know.

A law suit filed by “C.S.” in Federal Court alleges that the school district and high school principal protected two star student athletes after it had been proven in court that they had sexually assaulted the girl, a student at the school as well. From the complaint: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Sports Grid Blogger Dan Fogarty

Civility is doomed. Civilization is doomed. Propriety is doomed.

What's the concerned father of the injured cheerleader thinking about? Why, what any cool dad would think about---how good her butt looks!

And Taylor Young, a cheerleader for the Michigan State Spartans, may well be doomed, as it is impossible to tell how badly her character, values and common sense have been warped by being brought up in a household containing her father, Charles. After Young took a hard fall during the halftime show in a game against Florida State, requiring her to receive medical attention (she was OK), her father posted this astounding Facebook comment, which, naturally, has gone viral:

“I’m glad to see your booty isn’t gettin big ….. no one likes a chick with a big butt ….. love you.”

Idiotic? Check. Sexist? Check. Insulting to women? Check. Embarrassing to his daughter? Double check. Demonstrating a stunning lack of understanding of the internet? Check. Displaying a disturbing tendency to sexualize his own daughter?

Check, and Yuck.

But to Dan Fogarty, writing on Sports Grid, this offensive post proves that Young is a “cool Dad,” and Young goes on to cite other “experts” who believe this is “quite possibly the funniest ‘Dad Moment’ in Facebook history.”

Really? Is this really the current state of the culture? A father makes salacious comments about his daughter’s “booty,” suggests that “chicks” without similar booty quality are unloved and unlovable, and that’s cool?

If Fogarty is in step with the culture and I’m not, 1) then American society is coarsening faster than I thought, and 2) which way to Mars?

My condolences to Taylor Young for the boorish conduct of her father, and if she sees nothing wrong with it either, she has my intense condolences—because she has been severely damaged.

As, perhaps, have we all, if Fogarty is right.

The Conclusion to “Texas Cheerleading Ethics: Cheer Your Rapist” (And You’re Not Going To Like It)

"Give me an R! A! P! I! S! T!---RAPIST!!!"

Back in November, Ethics Alarms reported the awful story of the Silsbee, Texas High school cheerleader, identified only as “H.S.”,who was kicked off her cheerleading squad for violating “the Cheerleader Code of Ethics” after she refused to cheer at a game for the player who, it was later determined, had sexually assaulted her. She stood silent in mute protest, and when her parents sued the school, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that H.S.’s silent protest was not protected speech under the First Amendment, meaning that she could be disciplined for violating the cheerleading conduct code.

Now the Supreme Court has turned down the case, refusing to review it, meaning not only that H.S. loses, but also that her parents have to pay court costs and legal defenses to the tune of $45,000.

This is a perfect example of the distinction between the law, justice, and ethics. Continue reading

Texas Cheerleading Ethics: Cheer Your Rapist!

In the current issue of Sports Illustrated, Selena Roberts relates the tale of an ethical outrage, one that will makes your heart sink at the realization that there is so much incompetence, lack of common sense, cruelty and irresponsibility in the world…and that so much of it resides in high school administration.

A Silsbee (Texas) High School cheerleader, identified in the story only as “H.S.”,  had told police that she had been cornered in a room by three school athletes during a party, and sexually assaulted. Her screams were heard by others at the party, and charges were filed.  Roberts writes, “In a town whose population is 7,341 and whose high school football stadium seats 7,000…the alleged assault prompted two questions: How would it affect the girl? And how would it affect the team?” Continue reading