A piece in today’s Times:
The longest-running troupe of female cheerleaders in professional American football will be replaced with “gender-neutral” entertainment.
The demise of the “First Ladies of Football” is the latest reform by the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins, which dropped its name last year as offensive to Native Americans after pressure from sponsors.
Cheerleaders with the team, based in the capital, had complained of exploitation and sexual harassment, triggering a National Football League (NFL) investigation that has yet to publish its findings.
The team, now named the Washington Football Team, is following a trend among NFL teams to replace pom-pom waving cheerleaders in short skirts with male and female entertainers. “Fans can expect an experience like none other — a gender-neutral and diverse squad of athletes and dancers whose choreography, costumes, props, tricks and stunts will rival the best entertainment across genres and really inspire and ‘wow’ our fans,” said Petra Pope, who was hired to remodel the Washington team’s entertainment.
The First Ladies of Football was founded in 1962, changing their name from the Redskinettes in 2009 and dropping their long black wigs in 2013. Pope said the new team would have “fashion-forward” outfits. Her goal was “to create a really modern team that reflects where we are in 2021”. She invited the cheerleaders to audition for the new group.
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