For Mhkeeba Pate, no Super Bowl will ever beat the 2014 game. Her hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks, fought from underdog status to domination over the Denver Broncos, knocking them out 43-8. And Pate had the best seats in the house – she was on the field the entire time. Pate, who was a Seattle “Sea Gal” cheerleader for five seasons from 2011–2017, remembers seeing the likes of Gayle King taking her seat near the sideline, and dancing for and with fans.
“It was just amazing. Getting to dance in the end zone. It’s the ultimate experience. That’s our Super Bowl, too,” says Pate.
But 2014 also marks a low point in the cheer world, the beginning of an unraveling that the industry is still working through today. Less than two weeks before Pate performed at the Super Bowl, the former Oakland Raiders cheerleader Lacy Thibodeaux-Fields filed the first class-action lawsuit against the NFL regarding cheerleaders’ compensation, alleging wage theft and gender discrimination. She alleged she was paid only for the hours she was performing – not the thrice-weekly rehearsals or her work as an ambassador for the Raiders at events. At the end of the 2013-2014 season, she was paid a lump sum of $1,250. For comparison, an NFL mascot could earn up to $65,000 in a year.
Jobs that have other attractions pay nowt. Jobs that are particularly noisome pay lots of cash. Shrug. Ol’ Adam pointed this out 243 years ago. Perhaps it should have sunk in by now? The total compensation for different jobs is roughly and around and about equal. It’s the portions of the compensation in excitement, contentment, interest, cash which vary.