The Washington Redskins brought their cheerleading squad for a photo shoot in Costa Rica in 2013, and required many of the dancers to be nude among other shocking revelations the NY Times recently reported on.
Upon arriving in Costa Rica, team officials confiscated the young ladies passports. For the photo shoot, at the adults-only Occidental Grand Papagayo resort on Culebra Bay, some of the cheerleaders said they were required to be topless, though the photographs used for the calendar would not show nudity. Others wore nothing but body paint. If this was not bad enough, the Redskins invited fans to witness the event.
A contingent of sponsors and FedEx Field suite holders — all men — were granted up-close access to the photo shoots, the Times reported.
At the conclusion of the 14 hour photo shoot, 9 of the 36 women were given a special assignment, they were told to escort male sponsors to a night club which was described as desolate and darkly lit.
Daniel Snyder, bought the team in 1999, and one of his big projects was giving the cheerleading squad a total makeover. His changes included “bringing the craft closer to pole dancing with every season”, as a sports opinion article in The Washington City Paper described in 1999. Snyder one time ran a contest on the sports radio station which he owns, where five lucky winners” would have Redskins cheerleaders wash their cars.”
In the wake of this NY Times expose The Redskins issued a statement, saying: “The organization is very concerned by the allegations. We are immediately looking into this situation. Current and former Redskins cheerleaders are sharing very different first-hand accounts that directly contradict many of the details.
There have been other reports where cheerleaders claim that being groped was part of the job. In another Times article, a former cheerleader for the Redskins recalled a particularly uncomfortable assignment: She and five teammates were sent to a fan’s home, where several men were drinking and watching a football game.
Stephanie Jojokian, the longtime director and choreographer for the Redskins’ cheerleaders, disputed much of the women’s description of the Costa Rica trip. She vehemently denied most of the accusations described in the article.
“I was not forcing anyone to go at all,” Ms. Jojokian told the Times “I’m the mama bear, and I really look out for everybody, not just the cheerleaders. It’s a big family. We respect each other and our craft. It’s such a supportive environment for these ladies.”
The expose of the Costa Rica trip has opened up fierce debate over cheerleaders the last several weeks. In the wake of “#metoo”, many are suggesting ending cheerleading in Football all together. Many are also calling for Daniel Snyder to step down as owner. Many sports journalists are calling him the worst owner in sports, with the charges of misogyny and even racism. His record as owner has not been impressive either, with only one playoff win since 2005. The public relations are getting worse by the second.
By Jared Evan