National Hockey League’s ice girl cheerleaders ‘work in torture camps’
The apparently glamorous roles come with strict conditions and humiliating tasks
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Thursday 12 June 2014
As the rest of the world turns its eyes to Brazil, for this week at least the US remains preoccupied by another sport, as the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers ice-hockey teams face off in a seven-game series to decide the victors of this year’s Stanley Cup.
But spare a thought for the National Hockey League’s lesser-known stars: the cheerleading “ice girls” whose job it is to enthuse the crowds.
According to an investigation by Mother Jones magazine, their apparently glamorous roles come with strict conditions and humiliating tasks that one ex-member of the Philadelphia Flyers ice girl squad likened to a “torture camp”.
Apart from performing in sub-zero temperatures wearing little more than a bikini, the women are also banned from wearing jackets on or off the pitch, must not be seen eating in public and are not allowed to be in the same room or restaurant as a player outside the arena.
The LA Kings’ ice girls are reportedly paid about $15 (£9) an hour for corporate appearances and less for hockey games, and work for up to 30 hours a week. Yet they are expected to pay for their own hair and make-up supplies, which often amount to more than $300 a month.
The report follows a similar controversy in American football. This year alone, cheerleaders for NFL teams the Oakland Raiders, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills have filed lawsuits claiming a raft of employment law violations.
The Bills recently suspended their cheerleading programme after a lawsuit was brought by five former members of its squad, The Jills. The most controversial allegation is that the girls were subjected to a weekly “jiggle test”, in which their bottoms were assessed for “jiggling” while they performed “jumping jack” exercises.
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