UPDATE: Official statement from Redskins Team President Bruce Allen
Based on New York Times reporting, the Washington Redskins organization may very well have some questions they need to answer regarding the manner in which they have treated the women who represent the team on and off the field as cheerleaders for the franchise.
I encourage folks to read the article in full and form their own opinions. I discourage folks from using terms like “fake news” on my site. I don’t make a regular habit of just posting up links to any old story circulating on the internet. The New York Times has significant credibility here.
In this day and age, we are smart to be careful how stories and allegations are passed along and reported on because of the chaos and confusion that accompanies salaciousness. We have seen and heard from a number of cheerleading squads around the league over the years, recounting and alleging things from subpar working conditions to outright sexual harassment and worse. Despite the very public nature of Dan Snyder’s personal makeover of The First Ladies of Washington after his arrival as owner, I don’t believe he has been accused of some of the things other squads have accused their organizations of in recent years (his decision to personally take this on matters a lot—more below). That said, the shrinking nature of the uniforms worn by Redskins cheerleaders and the increasingly suggestive nature of the dancing has been reported on plenty and has become a topic of conversations for at least some fans and pundits. It is fair to suggest a grander conversation could, and likely should be had about the objectification of women (men now for the Rams cheerleading squad) and the role of cheerleaders in general in the NFL. Perhaps that conversation is one step closer to being had in the nation’s capital.
I sincerely hope these allegations are being investigated honestly by not just the Washington Redskins organization, but by third-party folks who know what they are doing (the serious nature of these allegations deserves an unbiased investigation and not just an in-house review). To say there is no room “anymore” for the kind of behavior reported here is a sad testament to the fact that this kind of behavior has clearly been tolerated in workplaces everywhere for far too long.
I have used this space to call out Dan Snyder for things pertaining to fielding a losing football team, cultivating a losing organizational culture and monetizing the passion of a proud fanbase. I have used strong language at times, but I have generally done so while freely acknowledging this is sports—and not life and death.
This matter, however, impacts people’s lives in ways that deserve serious attention. This is an issue that is front and center in today’s society, and we should hope that our favorite football organization treats it as such. Anything less than that is simply unacceptable.
For now, we’ll allow for the story to develop and will stay tuned to see how the team responds. Instead of launching into any kind of soapbox speech on issues we need to care more about, I felt like it was most important to put this story up on this site and allow for our community to acknowledge, consider, and address it. (We have used pictures of Redskins cheerleaders on this site—less so in recent years—which I feel is an important disclosure. I’ve been going to football games for decades, and cheerleaders are part of the gameday experience, so incorporating them into the retelling of that experience through pictures on this site has always seemed to make perfect sense.)
As a Redskins fan, I am disappointed. As a father, son, brother and husband that tries to decipher between right and wrong in real time every day, I am outraged that this shameful behavior would ever be allowed to happen, and I pray that anyone who is even remotely responsible for it will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately.
I think that anyone thinking this story is going to go away and die is sorely mistaken, and it very much deserves to be part of the discussion(s) we have about our team... and football in general.
Just so we’re clear, if it is shown that this was neither an isolated incident nor the worst of what was allowed to happen to members and representatives of the Washington Redskins organization, the blame should fall at the feet of the owner himself.