This past July, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law officially classifying professional cheerleaders as employees, entitled to minimum wage, sick leave, overtime and workers’ compensation. But why bother? After all, they work right next to some very rich men, and that’s the whole point, isn’t it?
That is, anyway, the novel argument presented Monday by the editorial board of the Orange County Register, who are just steamed about all the new laws taking effect in the state as of January 1. A vaccination bill, for example, which requires children to be fully vaccinated to attend school or daycare, and which proved rather necessary after a serious measles outbreak was linked to low vaccination rates.
The OC Register argues that both the vaccination bills and the “pay your cheerleaders” provision are examples of government overreach, “increasing the size and power of a government already too big.” But also, why pay cheerleaders at all? As they wrote in the original version of the editorial, which we’ve screencapped for reasons that will become obvious in a sec:
That’s real nice wording: “Being a cheerleader for a pro team obviously has fringe benefit lacking at other jobs, such as working closely with players making an average $1.9 million a year in the NFL and $5 million in the NBA.” It’s almost as though the implication is that working next to serious money somehow transfers that money to women who have alleged in lawsuits that they make as little as $5 an hour.
Or maybe the implication is—and perhaps we’re being too sensitive here—that “working closely” with those players means getting sexual or romantic access to them? Which is surely the true goal for any woman who enters professional cheerleading? But that, too, would be a very stupid thing for an editorial page to write, given that many NFL teams have exceedingly strict rules against fraternization.
In either case, that line was quietly removed from the editorial sometime Monday afternoon (a time stamp indicates that the story was updated at 1:27 p.m.). That’s shortly after Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who wrote the fair pay for cheerleaders bill, angrily tweeted an excerpt from said editorial:
We’ve emailed The OC Register’s opinion editor Brian Calle for comment and will update if we hear back.
Update, 11 p.m. EST:
Calle sent us the following email, in which he confirms that he too read that line in the editorial as “offensive and unseemly,” and that he directed it to be removed.
Thanks for your email.
Today was my first day back in the office. (I was taking some very rare time off when the editorial was written and published.) After reading the editorial today I instructed my deputy editor to remove the sentence from the story. The writer of that particular editorial was out of the office on personal leave today and I plan to have a conversation with him tomorrow morning. After we discuss it I plan to further address the situation and take corrective action.
To be clear though: I read the inference in the editorial as offensive and unseemly.
And it is definitely not reflective of the philosophy of Freedom Communications, the Orange County Register, the Press-Enterprise, our Editorial Board, our publisher, the owners of the company and certainly not me.
San Francisco 49ers cheerleaders perform during the second half of an NFL football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the St. Louis Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. Photo via AP Images