The GEM Debate:
If Size Doesn’t Matter, Why Do We Keep Measuring?
Okay, today’s debate has a few different facets so hang on while I try to break it down.
Ravens’ cheerleader, Courtney Lenz, will not be going with her team to the Superbowl in New Orleans this year. Why? The team reports they are only allowed to take 32 cheerleaders per NFL rules and according to Heather Harness, spokeswoman for the Ravens, Lenz didn’t put in the number of appearance hours needed to make the Superbowl squad, even though she is a five-year veteran and plans to retire this year. Seniority was one of the factors in the decision making and Lenz has definitely been there a little longer than most.
Another issue: Lenz was two pounds overweight, so she had to sit out for a game during the season.
Those are the facts. Here is the debate:
Really, Ravens? Hate much? Cheerleaders for the NFL make about $50 per game. Per game. That’s it. Yes, Lenz was in college for four years of her tenure, and perks and exposure are a part of her benefits package, if you want to call it that, but that’s a whole lot of loyalty for very little pay. Lenz got her degree and took a job in her chosen field this year so she may have been more out of pocket than usual.
But the head-spinning part about this is the weight thing. It’s just wrong. Depending on where Lenz is in her cycle as a growing person (freshman 15, anyone?) and her cycle as a woman (bloating, ladies?) two pounds is nothing!
Women in sports have got equal pay for equal work problems just like the rest of us (and anyone who’s been a cheerleader will tell you it IS a sport). They are working alongside football players who make an average salary of nearly two-million bucks a season. I’m not going to do the math, but even those with crappy math skills know that’s more than $50 a game.
And then there’s the weight issue. Have you seen the linebackers and fullbacks? These are not men who are watching their caloric intake. These are coworkers of Lenz who make more and can weigh more, but as women we are once again held to a different standard with a different pay scale. No, no, no no… These women obviously have other sources of income so not only are they cheerleaders, but they don’t even have the luxury of this being their only obligation, yet, the Ravens want to penalize Lenz for not showing up as much as they would have liked? And it must not have been required because if it were Lenz wouldn’t have been so shocked when she got the news that she had been left off the list.
Hopefully you have never been on this end of an employment battle, but I have. When things aren’t going your employer’s way, the environment can get very shaky very quickly. It is nice to enjoy your last year or game with people giving you all the accolades you deserve and being sent away with a bang, but in Lenz’s case it looks like she should have waited until the end of the season to make her announcement about retiring.
What do you think? Have you ever had to leave a position with less than fanfare? Will you go to the Facebook page and sign the petition? Or are you okay with the Ravens selection process? Let’s here ya! And, yes, those of you whose teams didn’t make it to the big dance can tell us how much better “your” organization would have treated this cheerleader.
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Ella Rucker is the mother of one of the smartest, funniest two-year-olds she’s ever met. She is currently assistant to the head GEM which means hats-a-plenty including writing, editing, and producing for Good Enough Mother. An Ohio native implanted in NYC for the last 13 years, Ella has achieved one of her many dreams by writing. Her musings (she’s amused they’d be called “musings”) can be found at other places on the web so make sure you follow her on twitter@ellalaverne for all the information.