5 Ways Professional Sports Reinforce Sexism

NBA Dancers
The Denver Nuggets Dancers perform during a break against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Pepsi Center on April 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Laker Girls, starring a young Paula Abdul, became the first NBA dance team in 1979. Today, every NBA team has a dance squad, though few WNBA teams have them — one that does is the New York Liberty. Its Timeless Torches is a men and women's over 40 dance team.

According to a 2015 Jezebel article, all 30 of the NBA's dance teams keep official salaries under wraps, and some teams don't disclose salary information to potential dancers until they make it to the final rounds of auditions. Teams don't provide health care to the women, although the teams will cover costs for injuries incurred while they're working. Some teams state up front that the job is technically a part-time independent contractor position, although the actual time commitment is much more than that. In April 2017, the Milwaukee Bucks agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by a former dancer claiming she and other dancers were often earning less than minimum wage.

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