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Tweets Lassoed by Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader Organization

During one of the Thanksgiving football games, a Dallas Cowboys player (Jason Witten) accidentally tackled Melissa Kellerman, a cheerleader for the team. It seemed at the time that she was not injured. Over the weekend, Ms. Kellerman made a couple of humorous tweets about the incident, and assured everyone following her Twitter feed that she was doing just fine. When the cheerleader organization got wind of her tweets, they forced her to close down her Twitter account.

Several media outlets, including sports journalists, have been outraged that the Cowboys cheerleading organization would force Kellerman to delete her Twitter account when her comments were not negative or accusatory or did not otherwise defame the player, the team or the cheerleading organization itself. In fact, her comments confirmed that regardless of whether she did actually sustain any bruises or soreness after the incident, her sense of humor was intact. A few reporters wrote about the need for self “branding” by cheerleaders, who typically view the position as a gateway to other pursuits, since they’re clearly not doing the work for the money.

The Dallas Cowboys pay one hundred and fifty dollars per game, require cheerleaders to arrive more than two hours prior to a game, and to attend evening rehearsals, which are mandatory and unpaid. They are also required to attend charity events without pay. They receive some compensation for appearances, yet that information is vague on the website.

Kellerman is an education major, so I am not sure whether she plans to coach cheering as part of her teaching career, or what motivated her to join the Cowboys cheerleaders. Maybe teaching is just a fallback career in the event her acting career doesn’t take off. I’m speculating here about Kellerman’s motives in an attempt to understand why she would allow the organization to require her to close her personal Twitter account, on which she said nothing negative or damaging about anything or anyone connected to the Dallas Cowboys or their cheerleading organization.

Regardless of her or the motives of others for cheering, it seems absurd that the organization would have a problem with what she said or how she said it via her Twitter account. Additionally, since cheerleaders are known to use cheering as a stepping-stone to other entertainment careers, the self-branding a Twitter account provides is considered de rigueur for the industry. Since the cheerleading organization is not speaking with press, we can only imagine their motives. It is possible that they want the women on the squad to be seen and not heard, unless they’re cheering on the field for the team.

While news outlets reported that Kellerman was forced to close her account on Twitter, I wonder about that. Why not walk away from cheering if it pays so little, is so demanding of your time, and on top of that, seeks to limit what you can say and how you can say it in your own private life managing your own career? Sure, Kellerman has many online and print news outlets vying for her, as it is apparent that she cannot speak up for herself. Has Kellerman been not only tackled by Witten, but also sidelined by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleading organization? I suppose we may never know, since if she’s been banned from Twitter, I assume she’s been told not to speak with reporters about this latest incident, as well.

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Kate Robinson
Kate Robinson, M.A. adult learning and development, is a Master's in Social Work candidate at Bridgewater State University. She lives south of Boston with her family. Kate enjoys writing, reading, collage and felting. She also works in medical education and as a counselor at a women's health clinic.
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One Comment
  • L.George Alexander

    When there are tryouts for the cheerleader positions, there are lots of women trying to fill these unpaid positions. Evidently, there is a form of compensation that is not based on money, and not all women are eligible or willing to try out for it. For one thing, one must have the looks and other income. A single mother supporting children would never consider it. One must also be willing to give up one’s basic civil rights as well.

    It will be interesting to see what this particular cheerleader will do with her career in the future and whether all this was worth it. Certainly, many women who have gone to other things have been forever branded a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader which could be a good thing or not. I can’t say I will lose much sleep regretting my decision not to try out for this honor in my past; but some women would, I am sure. I would like to think I had more in my life than cheers on a football field; but my worth is not decided by others but by me. Still, the values that were vented by the Dallas Cheer Leaders Association does remind me of many other organizations over the years who wanted to keep other women, Vestal Virgins for their own use. Things are suppose to change but they really don’t especially when there are so many women willing to cooperate.

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