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.