Launching a campaign to put an end to cheerleading in the NFL, USA Today columnist Nancy Armour is at it again, using her column for political activism.
For her April 18 column, Armour goes on the attack against the Houston Texans for featuring close-up photos of the team’s cheerleaders and asking fans to “vote for their favorites.”
“Are these action shots of the women that highlight their athletic ability or dance skills? Do they include a list of their qualifications?” Armour asks. “Of course not. They’re headshots. Sorry, head and chest shots. Close-up ones, at that.
“The better to ogle, you know,” the columnist scowls.
Armour goes on to report that cheerleaders from several NFL teams have filed discrimination complaints. She then notes that cheerleaders are subject to serious restrictions on their activities to stay employed.
“The underlying premise of NFL cheerleaders is degrading, presenting women as nothing more than objects to be leered at,” Armour scolds. “With skimpy, suggestive outfits as their “uniform,” their only purpose is to titillate.”
The columnist goes on to call cheerleading “an appalling message to send” and adds, “in this #MeToo era, there’s no longer any place for it. NFL cheerleaders need to go. NBA dance squads and NHL ice girls while we’re at it, too.”
Armour does praise the act of cheerleading itself but insists that cheerleading is not treated as a legitimate athletic endeavor in professional sports.
“But that isn’t the real reason 26 of the 32 NFL teams have cheerleaders, and everybody knows it. They’re there to be eye candy, blow-up dolls come to life,” she writes.
Armour slams the cheerleading outfits used by the various NFL teams and criticizes the photo spreads, calendars, and posters of the girls that highlight their sexuality.
But, this is par for the course, she says:
The NFL has a long history of disregarding and demeaning women, only acknowledging them when it suits the league’s financial interests. Few teams have female executives, even fewer have female owners. Despite efforts at the league level to address domestic violence, owners mostly ignore it, disciplining or cutting players only when there’s a public outcry.
The objectification of cheerleaders is yet one more example.
Armour wraps up her anti-cheerleading rant by noting that six NFL teams don’t have cheer teams but then quixotically praises the Los Angeles Rams for adding two men as cheerleaders.
Armour ends her piece with praise for Giants co-owner John Mara:
‘Philosophically we have always had issues with sending scantily clad women out on the field to entertain our fans,’ John Mara, the Giants co-owner, told the New York Times.
Good for Mara for speaking out. Too bad he said that eight years ago, and the rest of the league has not caught on.
Armour is one of the most politically motivated “sports” writers in the media today. You may recall the ruckus she raised in 2017 when she wrote a column praising anti-American protester Colin Kaepernick for standing up against capitalism. Or her column attacking Tom Brady for daring to be friendly with President Donald Trump. Or the time she said that Vice President Mike Pence was the real anti-American for his criticism of the NFL’s protests during the national anthem.
Sports writer Nancy Armour seems to spend far more time writing about politics than sports.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.