The fallout from the revelation that the Washington NFL team deployed its cheerleaders as escorts for sponsors and suite holders on a trip to Costa Rica in 2013, among other abuses, has finally produced some small progress in the way the team treats its cheerleaders. Thursday the team announced a number of changes to its cheerleading program, ostensibly geared towards making the job just a little less demeaning for those doing it.
The most visible of these changes, as far as its effect on the fan experience will go, has to do with making the cheerleading squad more “family friendly.” Cheerleader outfits for 2018 were reportedly chosen for being the “most conservative” of the squad’s 22 existing outfits. As you can see in the photo up top—taken during Washington’s 2018 home opener, against the Colts—that hasn’t meant a dramatic change, but if the new selection of outfits was chosen with input from the cheerleaders themselves, that’s a step in the right direction. Other changes being mulled reportedly include a game-day “energy team” that would include men, and the possible elimination of the annual swimsuit calendar.
There is also reportedly a new rule designed to prevent exactly the kind of sleazy exploitation detailed from the infamous Costa Rica trip:
Suite holders are no longer permitted on the cheerleaders’ photo-shoot trips. Instead, two female Prince George’s County police officers accompanied the squad on its June trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to shoot the 2018-19 swimsuit calendar. Moreover, the cheerleaders didn’t attend evening parties off the resort, as occurred on previous trips. Some told the Times they had been handpicked to socialize with suite holders at a nightclub and felt “pimped out” as a result.
It’s also worth pointing out that the team has changed its tune regarding the substance of Juliet Macur’s reporting. Where Bruce Allen said in May that accounts given to him by cheerleaders “directly contradict” Macur’s story, spokesman Maury Lane is quoted now as conceding that“all aspects [of the report] are accurate,” though he stuck to the company line that events had been exaggerated. The two executives reportedly present on the Costa Rica trip are no longer with the team: Lon Rosenberg, the former executive vice president of operations, left the team sometime before publication of the New York Times report; and president of business operations Dennis Greene resigned in May, shortly after the story broke. The yucky, interactive “who’s hotter” game has also been scrubbed from the team’s website.