Part 1 – Deciding to Sign up for the Program
My husband and I have enjoyed having Broncos season tickets for the last four years. In those years my interest in the Broncos has gone from excitement about a Sunday afternoon away from the house and kids to something a bit more. And by a bit more I mean a lot more. I now care a lot (perhaps a bit too much) about the outcome of Broncos games and follow news about the Broncos quite frequently (AKA all-the-time).
At the beginning of the season the kids are excited about the games and football in general – and taking young kids to pre-season games can be an excellent use of these tickets for season tickets holders who are forced to buy them. Need to leave at halftime? No big deal. Need to leave at halftime during the 49ers week 8 primetime game? Not so cool. But by the end of the season, especially a season when the Broncos do well, the kids (at least my kids) get sick of football and they start feeling left out when Mommy and Daddy go to “yet another game”. My husband and I can’t wait until the kids are older and can join us at the games (if they want to that is). In an attempt to make our older daughter feel a bit more involved in Mommy and Daddy’s football distraction this season we asked her if she wanted to try out the Broncos Junior Cheerleader Program. Jumping up and down with delight was her response.
Now I don’t have aspirations of my daughter growing up to be a Broncos cheerleader – or any kind of cheerleader for that matter. But I also don’t have a problem with it if that’s what she wants to do. I do not subscribe to the Cheerleaders/Disney princesses/”Girl” Legos are evil and will ruin your daughter philosophy because I think it’s a lazy argument that sells girls short. In my world girls can play with their chemistry set in a princess dress and build a rocket ship with pink legos if they want to. They can also be cheerleaders who loves math, grow up to be lawyers, and help NFL cheerleaders win some of their lawsuits.
Now what about these lawsuits or the issue of NFL teams having cheerleaders in general?
NFL cheerleaders have always been a bit controversial. Some teams don’t have them because their owners don’t approve of having women dance on the sidelines in tiny outfits, it is ridiculously cold for most of the season in some areas making it challenging to dance and not freeze simultaneously, or there just isn’t any interest in a cheerleading program. Recently NFL cheerleaders have made the news for many negative reasons: low pay or no pay at all, weird and awkward hygiene rules, and overall jerky behavior by the teams.
I like watching the Broncos cheerleaders perform. I also enjoy the Stampede Marching Band, the Mile High Tumblers, Miles the Mascot, Thunder the horse, and the skydivers that enter the stadium before each game. I find them all entertaining and I think they all add to the enjoyment of seeing a game in the stadium. I also have no idea what any of these people are paid for their hard work. I would love if the Denver Bronco cheerleaders were paid more. Teams don’t publicize what they pay their cheerleaders but from everything I have read it looks like all NFL cheerleaders are long overdue for a huge raise.
At the very minimum I hope the Broncos organization is open about what the cheerleading job entails so it is clear to the cheerleaders what they are signing up for. It’s one thing to take a job that you know has a ridiculously low salary, it’s another to agree to take that low salary for a certain number of hours work, and then have those hours and other expenses increase out of nowhere. If Denver Bronco cheerleaders file a lawsuit I will definitely be watching - and I would pull my daughter from the program in the future if I felt the Broncos organization was mistreating their cheerleaders. However I have personally taken a “cool job at a cool place” for a low wage because I wanted the experience (I’m looking at you LucasFilm). So I understand why many of these women want to be Broncos Cheerleaders. And I understand that they are not forced to take a low paying cheerleading job just like I wasn’t forced to take a huge pay cut to work at the aforementioned dream-job place. So I’m going to give the Broncos cheerleaders credit for knowing what they signed up for while hoping that the Broncos organization looks at the current salaries of their cheerleaders and decides they deserve a lot better.
My 6 year old daughter (unaware of lawsuits or controversy) was really excited about having her own Broncos experience at Mile High Stadium. While she says she wants to go to the games I know that she likes the “idea” of the games more than the reality. This is the same child who was laying down in the grass in the shade WITH snacks and thought she might die of boredom after about 20 minutes of watching training camp last summer after expressing interest in seeing the Broncos practice. The games are not a good fit for her right now, but I knew she would enjoy the dance routines, fancy costumes (which are not skimpy), and being around not only “real-life cheerleaders” but also just the “older girls” in the Jr. Cheerleading Program. Because in case you didn’t know, for a 6 year old “older girls” are super awesome and amazing. And if by chance any of the cheerleaders or older girls can convince my daughter that taking a shower is a great thing to do and not some kind of bizarre and cruel punishment from Mom – all the better!
The Broncos Jr. Cheerleading Program takes place between June and December for girls 6-14. There are no auditions which I think is key for this type of program – it’s not competitive which I love. The girls meet once or twice a month on either Saturday mornings or early in the afternoon. The Jr. Cheerleaders perform at between 3-4 Broncos games (some pre-season, some regular season) either before the game or during half-time. I’ve seen the Jr. Cheerleaders at many Broncos games and have also heard of them performing at Rockies and Rapids games. It’s not cheap by any means – uniform and tuition dues run about $600, but as I’m not having my kids do many camps this summer I somehow justified this expense to myself. While parents and Jr. Cheerleaders are not given game tickets your daughter can join you after her performances in the stands if you have a ticket for her. Check here for more info about the Jr. Cheerleading program including their Dance Team (which is competitive) and the Dare to Cheer Program for kids with Down Syndrome.
Up next – my first impressions of the program and trying on the uniform (otherwise known as me having an anxiety attack about choosing the right size outfit for my daughter when she has been known to jump 2 sizes during the summer). . .