The NY Times has a great piece on the plight of the Buffalo Jills and their past, present and future struggles with The Bills. It’s a bit depressing to think that with all of the money being thrown around these days when it comes to professional sports teams in Buffalo, that a quick and painless plan can’t be laid out that would take care of these cheerleaders. At this point it’s probably as much about saving face, and not admitting to any wrongdoing, as it is figuring out what the plan is moving forward.
When I was younger I was friends with a couple of Jills, and while they never complained about their situation (at least to me), if I knew then what I know now, I would have been pretty upset. After all, I can tell you that many of the guys that I would go to the games with usually spent just as much time cheering for the Jills as they did for the team. The Jills were a big part of the game, and they got the crowd amped up to make some noise when it was needed. Of course their hard work should have been compensated fairly on the field.
As for working “off the field”, it sounds as if life for the cheerleaders was as unglamorous as it gets, and that’s unfortunate. To think that the team and the league did not see the Jills as an integral part of the team is still mind boggling, especially in this day and age… especially with the huge amounts of money that surrounds professional football culture. If the NFL and The Bills management had been smart about it, they would have looked at professional cheerleaders as an opportunity to create a thriving business around the women. One that revolved around monetary compensation, and not a ticking time bomb. After all, when people get paid for their worth and contributions, it bodes well for the entire organization, especially when large assets are obviously at hand.
Instead the Jills are now embattled in a lawsuit that should never have come to pass. It’s actually embarrassing to read about the repressive culture that surrounded the cheerleading squad for so long. Thankfully a few of the Buffalo Jills came out of the locker room to shed a light on the pervasive league problem. Check out this latest article in The NY Times to get a feel for the situation, as it stands today.