Cal Thomas: Standing up for the cheerleaders

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Tuesday, May 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: NFL owners have taken a stand, so to speak, on the national anthem. I think it’s time they stood up to protect their cheerleaders.

EICHER: Commentary now from WORLD Radio’s Cal Thomas.

THOMAS: It took two years of fan boycotts, TV-ratings declines, the threat of revenue loss, not to mention President Trump’s public shaming. But NFL owners acted — you might say acquiesced to pressure — and decided to ban players’ on-field national anthem protests.

Despite what the NFL Players Association says, this isn’t a First Amendment issue, and it isn’t even necessarily anti-free speech. It isn’t as though players are facing sanction for what they say about the anthem or about racial justice off the field, or in the locker room, or anywhere else other than game time.

But game time is the NFL’s business. If any other business is hurt by the behavior of its employees, management either requests a change in behavior, or sacks the employee for the sake of the bottom line and the morale of other employees and customers.

I’d like to suggest, though, that the NFL is far from finished. The owners’ next issue should be how their cheerleaders are treated. It’s been a long time since NFL cheerleaders actually led cheers. Today, they display themselves in suggestive ways while male fans who have consumed too much beer can ogle them.

Cheerleaders have recently gone public with complaints that some NFL teams encourage their participation in off-the-field events. It’s these events that subject them to unwanted sexual advances.

As The New York Times reported last month, NFL cheerleaders’ work during a game is only a small part of the job. Quoting now from the story: “They are also required to fulfill what often is the unsavory side of the job: interacting with fans at games and other promotional events, where groping and sexual harassment are common.” End quote.

The cheerleaders told the newspaper that team officials with the NFL, as well as those associated with pro basketball and hockey, are aware of the problem. But the leagues have done little or nothing to stop it.

They should.

Sexual harassment is illegal and with the #MeToo movement, clearly the “rules” and level of tolerance for such inappropriate behavior have changed.

Certain men may try to justify themselves by imagining that skimpy outfits are an invitation for them to make advances. But nothing absolves men from sexually harassing cheerleaders.

NFL owners might congratulate themselves for banning protests during the national anthem. But they should now act to stop the abuse of their cheerleaders. And they don’t need two years to do it.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) In this Aug. 24, 2013, file photo, Washington Redskins cheerleaders run out of a tunnel before an NFL preseason football game against the Buffalo Bills in Landover, Md. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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