This is an open letter from the Pro Cheerleading Podcast to the front office management of the NBA Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Orlando Magic to protest your recent decisions to terminate the only all-female dance teams of your organizations – the Sacramento Kings Dancers, Dallas Mavs Dancers, Cleveland Cavalier Girls and Orlando Magic Dancers. Since you failed to have the decency, transparency, and respect to communicate your intentions to eliminate the dance teams to these women directly well in advance of the announcements being made public, the Pro Cheerleading Podcast feels it is only appropriate to openly and very publicly speak on behalf of these pro dancers to share the despicable way you treated them and hold each of you accountable.
Over this past 2018-19 NBA season, you have negatively policed the attire, dance style, and image of your female dancers as being too sexy and not family friendly without any attempt to ever speak with these women about the perceived issues with their appearance and performances. Perhaps your knee jerk reaction to the Yahoo article, “NBA dancers reveal decades-long culture of 'brainwashing,' unfair pay and eating disorders,” or the scathing Sports Illustrated investigation, Inside the Corrosive Workplace Culture of the Dallas Mavericks was to try to “fix” the dancers instead of addressing the real issue of treating these women like valued and respected members of your organizations. Even though these women complied with your unclear and subjective direction to stifle their creativity in their dances and cover their bodies in different uniforms, you still had the audacity to blindside them by erasing their legacies and eliminating their dance programs. Pro dancers have become the scapegoats for your failure to lead a truly inclusive, sexual harassment-free workplace with gender equality for all employees.
You described these decisions as a new evolution in game day entertainment to be more gender inclusive by including men. Please refrain from insulting our intelligence and explain the hypocrisy of seeking a gender inclusive environment in an already predominately male sports industry by replacing female dance teams with male dancers. You have effectively removed opportunities for female dancers in an already highly competitive professional dance industry – only to replace them with coed hip hop dance teams and hype squads or an insulting variety show of entertainment acts consisting of dancing animals, ventriloquists, comedians, magicians, pogo stick jumpers, and dancing dads! Even worse, the women whose jobs have been eliminated did not even have a voice at the table to share their perspective of how this would impact not only their lives but the youth they have influenced as ambassadors of your organizations and the broader dance community of aspiring pro dancers.
Allow us to help you better understand the bigger picture here. The New York Post cites that there are roughly 4 million participants in cheerleading from elementary school through college and that the cheerleading industry has an estimated revenue of more than $2 billion a year. The local youth involved in cheerleading programs or dance classes whose parents pay to attend your summer camps for an opportunity to learn alongside your pro dancers are being robbed of a dream. These youth will likely continue their passion and love of dance as members of competitive dance and cheerleading teams in high school and potentially advance to participate at the collegiate level. Dancing professionally in the NBA is the pinnacle of dreams for so many young girls and women so your decision to eliminate this top tier of talent negatively jeopardizes their future as pro dancers. Your message to them is that they have no voice, that they are not good enough, that they are replaceable, and that their future in pro cheerleading and dance is reduced to this circus of game day entertainment. We are all part of your team fan base, customers, and stakeholders who are just as worthy of respect as your sponsors and advertisers.
You did yourself a MAJOR disservice by silencing our voices so hear us loud and clear:
· Your Decisions Lack Sufficient and Consistent Justification and Disproportionately Target Women.
· Coed Dance Teams Could Have Been Added Rather Than Replace Existing Female Dance Teams.
· Gender Inclusiveness Should Start With Professional Sports Leagues Becoming Coed, Not The Dancers.
· You Caused Domino Effect Within the Dance Community By Eliminating Female Semi Professional Dancers.
· Pro Dancers Should Have Been Treated As Valued Employees And Ambassadors Of Your Organizations.
· Timing of Announcements Interfered With Dancers’ Ability To Pursue Other Professional Dance Opportunities.
Your decisions WILL NOT go unchallenged and the voices of these women whose lives have been impacted by your careless and irresponsible decisions WILL be heard. Due to your failure to have a respectable conversation with these pro dancers, we are requesting a formal meeting with members from each of your teams’ executive leadership to begin a dialogue that should have been the appropriate place to start.
Pro Cheerleading Podcast, on behalf of current, former and aspiring professional dancers