For the first time in its 65 year history the NFL (National Football League) will welcome male cheerleaders into their folds.
Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron will join the support squads for the LA Rams having aced their auditions earlier this year. Although there was no call out for male dancers, the pair decided to take a chance and just turn up on the day. That was all it took for the selection panel to recognise their talent and place them on the team.
Although many squads have incorporated stuntmen into their performances to assist with more complex aerial stunts, this will be the first time men have actually danced alongside women.
In an interview with US TV show Good Morning America, team captain Emily Leibert said: “They really just fit the bill to be a Los Angeles Rams cheerleader. They bring so much energy and there’s really something magnetic about their performance.”
The hiring of Jinnies and Peron inspired others to follow suit. Dancer Jessie Hernandez was recently selected to join the cheerleader ranks of the New Orleans Saints when he auditioned after hearing news of the two trailblazers.
Unsurprisingly, there has been a significant backlash to the hiring of the men from overwhelmingly male fans of the NFL. Alongside the obvious comments such as: “two dudes do not belong on a cheerleader squad,” one commenter went to the extreme of saying “This is so messed up, nobody wants to see this, it’s just disgusting and will continue hurt the NFL.”
Another added: “Let the them dig their own graves. I hope there isn’t an NFL in the future the way this is going.” There were also warnings issued about the reaction the men can expect from fans: “They’d better be ready for the taunting they’re gonna get.”
Time will tell if this proves to be the beginning of more diverse cheerleaders in the future.
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