Touchdown for equality: First Super Bowl to include male cheerleaders

Story by CBC Kids News • Published 2019-01-28 08:00

Three men made history when they joined NFL cheer squads in 2018

It doesn’t matter that the big game is still days away.

The first male cheerleaders to ever perform at the Super Bowl already feel like they’ve won.

Quinton Peron and Napoleon Jinnies will be dancing and cheering for the Los Angeles Rams as the team takes on the New England Patriots on Feb. 3

Both professional dancers, they were the first men to audition for an NFL cheer squad in 2018.

Before Peron and Jinnies other NFL teams had male stuntmen, but no male dancers.

Now that their team has made it to the Super Bowl, they get to make history again in 2019.

Tweet @NapoleonJinnies says: 2018 first male cheerleaders in the NFL. 2019 first male cheerleaders dancing at the Super Bowl. I can't breathe.

@Qperon tweets: Aye napoleon, you think Atlanta is ready for us? NAHHH we're going to the Superbowl!

After Peron and Jinnies were accepted by the Rams in 2018, another male dancer named Jesse Hernandez tried out for the New Orleans Saints’ squad and was accepted.

It’s a shift in thinking for the sport, which is dealing with discrimination complaints from some former cheerleaders.

Man does high kicks with group of women with pompoms.

Jesse Hernandez joined the New Orleans Saints cheer squad in 2018. (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

In 2018, former NFL cheerleader Lisa Guerrero told the CBC that the NFL tells cheerleaders who they can date and what they can post on social media.

She said NFL players don’t face the same restrictions.

The NFL has said cheerleaders have a right to work in a positive and respectful environment.

Man dances with women on football field.

Before he joined the Rams’ cheerleading squad, Quinton Peron was a professional dancer who loved to dance to jazz and hip hop. (Harry How/Getty Images)

A Canadian perspective

Dartmouth, N.S.-based cheerleading coach Ayjay Colley said having male cheerleaders in the NFL will open doors for Canadian boys.

“It would have been nice to see back in the day,” the 24-year-old said. “It definitely would have sparked my interest.”

It took a few false starts before Colley was able to work up the courage to try out for his local squad about 10 years ago.

Man smiles in front of cheerleading logo on bright blue wall.

Nova Scotia cheerleading coach Ayjay Colley said he wishes there had been male cheerleaders in the NFL when he started cheerleading about 10 years ago. (Nina Corfu/CBC)

In Grade 8, he quit the basketball team to try out for the cheerleading squad, but the teasing was so bad he gave up.

The next year Colley decided to go for it again, no matter what the bullies said.

He made the squad and “fell in love” with cheerleading, even though he was the only boy on the team.

Having men dancing at the sidelines during NFL games is “super awesome,” Colley said. “I think it’s going to open up a new chapter.”

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