Male Cheerleaders Make History in the NFL Amid Cries for More Female Leadership

For the first time in the history of the NFL, male cheerleaders have joined the ranks of its elite cheerleading squads.

Two NFL teams, The Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints, added men to their cheerleading teams, according to teams’ official websites. The Rams signed on two male dancers, Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies; and Jesse Hernandez joined the Saints Saintsations. All three men made their NFL debut on Thursday, August 9, at the beginning of the NFL preseason.

The move has been widely praised as a step toward gender equality, but with the ongoing debate over player protests, it remains to be seen how fans will receive this change. According to Fortune, the “current divisive nature of the national political scene could embolden some to strongly express seeing men in roles that have historically been filled by scantily clad women.”

Instead of scantily clad women, Americans (46%) want more women in leadership positions in the NFL, reports a January 2018 survey by The Harris Poll. In fact, 43% of Americans in general say more women in leadership positions in the league would increase viewership. And it seems the NFL has been paying attention. 100 women are working at EVP levels or above across the NFL’s 32 teams and even one referee on the field, according to The StarTribune.