The National Football League (NFL) has announced that the 2018-2019 football season will include male cheerleaders.
Two teams thus far, the Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints, have added male dancers to their cheerleading roster.
The NFL was facing a decline in ratings and controversy over athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem at the time of this announcement.
Meet the cheerleaders
On Friday, 17 August, the Saints played the Arizona Cardinals in a pre-season game. Jesse Hernandez, 25, took the field as part of the Saintsations cheerleading unit. He is the first man on an NFL dance squad.
‘This is the start of a new journey for a lot of people, myself included,’ Hernandez told CBS News.
Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies, two dancers for the Rams, have been practicing for football season since they landed the positions in March.
‘Still can’t believe I’m one of the first males in history to be a pro NFL cheerleader,’ Jinnies tweeted after making the cut.
Still can’t belive I’m one of the first males in history to be a pro NFL cheerleader! Everyone’s support and love has been insane! thank you and GO RAMS! @RamsNFL @LARamsCheer #LARams pic.twitter.com/srpkYiVmEI
— Napoleon Jinnies (@NapoleonJinnies) March 27, 2018
‘it’s still so surreal to me that I am one of the First Male cheerleaders to dance for a pro team,’ Peron echoed.
This week has been a whirlwind! But it’s still so surreal to me that I am one of the First Male cheerleaders to dance for a pro team ! pic.twitter.com/PThiD6aScN
— Quinton Peron (@Qperon) March 30, 2018
However, not all football fans are thrilled with this new gender-inclusive cheerleading squad.
NFL MALE CHEERLEADERS?
I’D Be DAMNED If I Sat Up And Watched That NONSENSE.
— POVhilariousD (@POVhilariousD) August 6, 2018
The NFL is introducing male cheerleaders. They really know how to appeal to their fan base.
— the Cult of Mike (@elvisknievil) August 7, 2018
Idgaf. I’m saying it. These male cheerleaders for the NFL are another way to showcase the effeminization of the black male.
— (@thereddempress_) August 7, 2018
Definitely NOW, not watching football anymore.
— @SalbertusMagnus711 (@sillysullyman71) August 7, 2018
Watch what Jinnies and Peron have to say about their experiences in the video below:
The NFL Kickoff Game will take place on 6 September.