TIME russia

It’s Time to Get Over the ‘Miracle On Ice’

The U.S ice hockey team rushes toward goalie Jim Craig after their upset win over the Soviet Union in the semi-final round of the XIII Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., Feb. 22, 1980.
The U.S ice hockey team rushes toward goalie Jim Craig after their upset win over the Soviet Union in the semi-final round of the XIII Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., Feb. 22, 1980. AP

As the U.S. men's hockey team gets ready to play Russia at Sochi, Cold War clichés dominate conversation

Halfway through the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia’s Foreign Minister got so fed up with all the bad press that he decided to take up his pen and react. “In the Western media,” Sergei Lavrov wrote in an op-ed published Thursday, Feb. 13, in Russia’s Kommersant daily, “a campaign of anti-Russian information has been launched, using terminology that is in the spirit of the Cold War.” Then, for nearly 2500 words, he went on to eviscerate the West for its old-think biases. But if he felt the media was beating the dust out of the Iron Curtain before, he should brace himself for this weekend.

On Saturday, Russia and the U.S. will face off in an Olympic hockey match that is, in some fairly superficial ways, reminiscent of the so-called “Miracle on Ice” – the epic game between the U.S. and Soviet Union (not Russia) during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. In the American imagination, that game provided one of the defining narratives of the Cold War. A ragtag bunch of American college kids defeated the honed professionals of the Soviet hockey machine, who had dominated the Olympic hockey tournament for decades.

No less than three American films have been made about that upset, the first one only a year after the game was played and most recently the 2004 version from Walt Disney. It was a great story. But it has nothing to do with Saturday’s match. “Folks need to get over it,” says Vyacheslav Fetisov, the Russian hockey legend who, as a 21-year-old defenseman, played on the losing end of the Miracle on Ice. “There is really just no parallel to be made,” he tells TIME.

But at a press conference two days before the game, the members of Team USA had to deflect a stream of questions trying to tease out even the slightest parallel. “Look, guys, I wasn’t even born yet,” said T.J. Oshie, a 27-year-old center for the St. Louis Blues. “I’m not really a 100% sure on the history of all that.” But do you remember hearing about it, a reporter persisted, maybe from uncles or grandfathers? “Yeah, they talked about. But I was just a young kid,” said Oshie “I remember watching the movies.” So does the history come into play for the team at all, asked another American reporter. “You know,” said Oshie. “I really don’t think so.” It went on like that for half an hour.

In the professional sporting press, references to the Miracle on Ice have become a grating cliché, much more likely to inspire a cringe in the context of Sochi than a wistful stare into the distance. Gregg Krupa, who covers the Red Wings for the Detroit News, says that mentioning today’s political climate as some kind of motivator for any of the hockey players in Sochi would just be misleading.

During the Winter Games of 1980, the Cold War was at one of its tensest moments. The Soviet Union had just invaded Afghanistan. The United States was about to elect Ronald Reagan as President. The long period of detente between the two superpowers was being abandoned. “It was a Cold War game,” Krupa says. “Today, these guys all hang out in the States and Canada with each other, playing hockey and raising families together.”

Fetisov, now a member of the Russia’s upper house of parliament, was one of the players who broke down the barriers to make that possible. In the late 1980s, he began pushing the Soviet government to let him play in the NHL, and he was threatened in response with banishment to the Ukrainian minor leagues. Only when the Soviet Union was on the brink of collapse was he allowed to play abroad, and he went on to win two Stanley Cup trophies in a row for the Red Wings in 1997-1998. Following in his footsteps, most of the players on the Russian national team today also play for the NHL, including the team captain, Pavel Datsyuk, who also plays for the Red Wings.

“I don’t know what the comparisons are motivated by, but they just don’t make sense,” says Fetisov. “It’s a different game, a different world we’re living in. The Soviet Union is gone.”

That is the message that Russia’s government has been trying to get across in these Olympics, and many of the officials involved have said they are succeeding. Konstantin Ernst, who designed the opening ceremony, said afterward that it had shown, “the real Russians, untainted by decades of propaganda and the Cold War.” To drive home the point, President Vladimir Putin visited the American House in Sochi’s Olympic village on the eve of Saturday’s game.

So it’s little wonder that parallels drawn in the media between that game and the Miracle on Ice – and between Russia and the Soviet Union – have gotten officials so upset. It seems to have the same effect on some of the players in Team USA. “We’re just out there playing hockey,” says David Backes, captain of the St. Louis Blues. “Whether that solves any of the political tensions, I doubt it. But really what we want to do is write our own chapter on Saturday.” After 34 years, maybe they can even close the book.

TIME Football

Richie Incognito Is the Bully the NFL Deserves

Miami Dolphins left guard Richie Incognito looks on during a game, October 6, 2013 in Miami Gardens. Incognito was accused of bullying teammate Jonathan Martin with threats and racial epithets.
Miami Dolphins left guard Richie Incognito looks on during a game, October 6, 2013 in Miami Gardens. Incognito was accused of bullying teammate Jonathan Martin with threats and racial epithets. Aaron M. Sprecher—AP

A new report details the terrible working conditions that led Jonathan Martin to flee the Miami Dolphins. But where exactly does the violent and macho league think those conditions come from?

What did you think you were watching all these years? What did you think football was?

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison, LLP earlier today released its exhaustive, NFL-commissioned report (PDF) on the midseason contretemps in the Miami Dolphins locker room that prompted the departure of tackle Jonathan Martin and the suspension of guard Richie Incognito. The report concluded — as though there were any other possible outcome — that Incognito (and two other linemen, John Jerry and Mike “Free Hernandez” Pouncey) had bullied the green, brainy, vulnerable Martin, with racial slurs and dirty joke-threats toward his sister and mother, to the point where he had to depart the team.

The investigators do fine work at reconstructing all of the harassment that occurred, from the time Jim Turner, the offensive line coach, participated in gay jokes about another player to the time Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey wore Japanese-inspired headbands on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor to mock a trainer. They recreate bad scenes in lunchrooms and at parties, and they extract wisely from the trove of text messages made available to them.

It’s all terrific reporting, and totally lacking context. The report over and over again mentions the workplace, and what is appropriate in the workplace. Well, what do these men do for work, at their workplace? “Not an ordinary workplace,” as the report’s conclusion, doesn’t quite cover it. The employees slam into people running at them, over and over again. Sometimes they slam into someone’s upper body, and sometimes they go for the legs. In their free time, when they’re not slamming into others, they train, so that they can weigh more, with more muscle and less body fat, for the next time they slam into others. And they better, because the people coming after them are in all likelihood more fervid than they are.

This is violent labor — labor, indeed, performed at a higher level when further violence is added.

There are, naturally, plenty of football players who would never behave the way Incognito and his cronies did. Many can compartmentalize the game they play, and model good behavior for all their fans and intimates, and thereafter graduate from the NFL to great things: even, in Byron White’s case, to the United States Supreme Court. (Incognito doesn’t appear to be headed that way, but the report does indicate that he plans to move back to Arizona, which assuredly will offer him all kinds of tantalizing possibilities for public office.)

But it’s hard not to notice many examples of lingering violence in retired players, both as scars and as method. In some especially sad cases they converge. So where does emotional violence like that which Martin faced come from? Does it come from a workplace with lax standards? Will telling football players to be more sensitive toward one another make them act that way? It’s a nice thought in February, nearly two weeks removed from the last whistle, approaching the happy and fertile moments of the combine and the draft. But ask again come August when you hear the first crack of two helmets against one another.

TIME olympics

Must-see Photos from Day 9 of the Sochi Olympics

Coaches dressed as chimpanzees, freestyle skiing, hockey and more.

Coaches dressed as chimpanzees, freestyle skiing, hockey and more.

TIME Football

Michael Sam Will Be OK

Missouri Lineman Michael Sam File Photo
Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam (52) lets out a scream after sacking McNeese State quarterback Jacob Bower for a safety during the first half of the NCAA football game between the Mizzou Tigers and McNeese State Cowboys at the Edward Jones Dome in Columbia, Mo., Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010. Missouri defeated McNeese 50-6 (Cal Sport Media via AP Images) Cal Sport Media—AP

Sam will have his Jackie Robinson moment in September. The only question is the name that will be on the back of his jersey.

Michael Sam is kind of a big deal. Literally. He stands 6’3″, 262 lbs. He has a wing span of almost seven feet. The Hitchcock, Texas native was the South Eastern Conference Defensive Player of the year in 2013. After getting to know Sam over the course of the last three weeks his sexuality doesn’t come to mind — unless we are hanging at a gay bar in West Hollywood.

Sam just like any other professional athlete I have ever been around is ultra-competitive. While training with other NFL draft prospects in Thousand Oaks, preparing for the NFL scouting combine Feb 17th-25th, he mentioned how he wanted to continue to work hard and improve in all his various physical tests like the 225-pound bench press, 40-yard dash, and shuttle drill to name a few. His desire to be a successful NFL athlete is paramount at this stage in his life.

I asked Sam where he wanted to play. Sam said, “I don’t care what team I play for, I want to play for the team that drafts me and believes in me.” I learned how loyal and passionate Sam is for those who care for him. Whether it is a family member, a teammate, an employer, or a friend he is the type of individual that would go the extra mile for those that are in his corner.

While much of the media across the country continue to ask how Sam’s University of Missouri teammates were able to keep his secret for so long, it is a testament to Sam’s character. The guys keeping their word to their team leader was never in question.

The litmus test of how players will react to an openly gay player is a overwhelming success not only at Missouri, but Willamette University as well. Willamette is a small Division 3 school in Oregon. Both Conner Mertens and Michael Sam came out to their teammates and were welcomed with open arms into the locker room. Showers, locker room, off-field, on-field — there have been no issues for either player. After coming out in August of 2013, the ceiling on Sam’s talent, success, and happiness was raised exponentially. Sam attests that his 11½ sacks in 2013 were largely due to him coming and being able to express who he is as a open and honest person. (He only had 3½ sacks in 2012.)

Sam serves as a role model and a beacon of light. When Sam steps foot on the football field in September, he will be the first ever openly gay professional athlete to play in a game in one of the big three sports.

I truly believe Sam will be drafted right where he was slated to go before he came out — which is between rounds three and four. Sam will continue to impress executives, scouts, and coaches alike, not only on the field but off the field with his is character, intelligence, work ethic, and leadership skills. When Sam sits down with his suitors, he will sway them with all of his attributes. For equality and inclusion, Sam will have his Jackie Robinson moment in September. The only question that remains is the name that will be on the back of his jersey, not the name on the front.

TIME History

17 Memorable Kisses Throughout History

Smooches to remember in time for Valentine's Day

  • Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss

    Rodin's The Kiss
    Hulton Archive/Getty Images

    One of the most famous depictions of love in art, this marble statue illustrates Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Rimini, two lovers from Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Their kiss is so passionate, you would not know that they were condemned to hell after their affair. The duo was originally part of doors he designed called The Gates of Hell until 1886, “when Rodin decided that this depiction of happiness and sensuality” did not fit, sculpted a separate statue, and exhibited it in 1887, according to the Musée Rodin in Paris. A version of The Kiss was supposed to be displayed in Chicago in 1893, but the couple’s embrace was deemed too erotic for public viewing.

  • Thomas Edison’s The Kiss

    In this 1896 film, May Irwin and John Rice, actors in the New York stage comedy The Widow Jones, reenact a 19-second-long kiss from the show. Shot by Edison’s Vitascope cinema projector, it is considered to be the first movie kiss. Not everyone found it romantic, however, like painter John Sloan, who reportedly wrote, “Magnified to Gargantuan proportions and repeated three times over, it is absolutely disgusting.”

  • Hershey’s Kisses

    Hershey To Challenge Kraft Foods With Cadbury Bid
    Bloomberg/Getty Images

    The tear-drop chocolates date back to 1907, and now Hershey’s plant in West Hershey, Pennsylvania, can produce up to 70 million of them a day. For Valentine’s Day, Hershey’s makes more than 8 million pounds of Hershey’s Kisses and sells more than 800 million individual Hershey’s Kisses. Over the years, the bite-sized treats have been wrapped in different colors and have been worn like a bra by “I Kissed a Girl” singer Katy Perry on the Jul. 7-21, 2011, cover of Rolling Stone.

  • V-J Day in Times Square Kiss

    VJ DAYAlfred Eisenstaedt / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images
    Alfred Eisenstaedt / Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images

    The caption for Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph in the August 27, 1945, issue of LIFE was “In the middle of New York’s Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.” (Read more about the photograph at LIFE.com.) In 2012, CBS News identified the sailor and nurse in the photo as George Mendonsa, a retired fisherman from Rhode Island, and Greta Friedman, and brought them together again in Times Square.

  • The Kiss of Death

    The Godfather: Part II

    Some kisses are far from romantic. In The Godfather Part II (1974), mob boss Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) kisses his brother Fredo (John Cazale) in Havana and reveals that he knows Fredo had betrayed him: “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart.” TIME’s Richard Corliss called the scene, “one of the most powerful kisses in movies: the kiss that kills.”

  • KISS

    Kiss Album Cover Portrait Session
    Ginny Winn—Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

    Between the band members’ “signature makeup, explosive stage show and anthems like “Rock And Roll All Nite” and “Detroit Rock City,” they are the very personification of rock stars,” The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wrote about 2014 inductee KISS. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley started rocking out in 1972 and became one of the most popular bands of the 1970s. While Peter and Ace peeled off in the 80s, the band continued to rock out at Super Bowl XXXIII, the 2002 Winter Olympics, the American Idol finale in 2009, and even graced the cover of Playboy magazine in 1999. Still performing today, KISS claims to have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide over a 40-year career.

  • World Leaders Kiss

    Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev and East German leader Erich Honecker
    Helmuth Lohmann—AP

    In honor of the 30th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic in 1979, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East German President Erich Honecker shared a “fraternal kiss” (also once referred to as a “Kremlin kiss”) — an expression of solidarity exchanged between Eastern Bloc pols when the Soviet Union existed. There was a Dmitri Vrubel mural of this moment on the Berlin Wall captioned “God help me to survive this deadly love affair.”

  • Al and Tipper Gore Kiss

    Vice President Al Gore kisses his wife Tipper Gore
    Robert Nickelsberg—Liaison/Getty Images

    The Vice President Al Gore made headlines when he hugged his wife Tipper tightly and kissed her for three whole seconds — which felt like forever — at the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 17, 2000. Back then, TIME wrote, “The sheer carnality of the kiss — the can’t-wait-to-get-back-to-the-hotel-room urgency, the sexual electricity flowing south — was riveting.” Political commenters called the kiss both a calculated attempt to humanize Gore and a statement of monogamy intended to show that he was his own man and not like his boss, Bill Clinton, who had an affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Gore did not win the 2000 presidential election, however, and the couple separated a decade later.

  • Ray Bourque’s Stanley Cup Kiss

    Ray Bourque
    Brian Bahr—Allsport/Getty Images

    After more than 20 years in the NHL, Ray Bourque kissed and cradled the Stanley Cup for the first time on June 9, 2001, after helping the Colorado Avalanche defeat the New Jersey Devils before he retired that summer.

  • Britney and Madonna Kiss

    Britney Spears and Madonna
    John Shearer—WireImage / Getty Images

    Britney Spears and Madonna shocked the world by French-kissing — or playing “tonsil hockey,” as TIME’s Joel Stein described it — at the MTV Video Music Awards on August 28, 2003. Critics compared it to Michael Jackson smooching Lisa Marie Presley at the 1994 ceremony. The image was apparently so appalling to some people that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had to apologize for placing it on the front page of the newspaper. And viewers who saw Miley Cyrus twerk on stage at the awards a decade later will chuckle at The Los Angeles Times description of the Britney-Madonna kiss: “The fact that this yawn-worthy Madonna shock tactic became the central topic of the show’s post-mortems indicates how low the once-essential showcase has sunk.”

  • Post-Stanley Cup Riots Kiss

    Vancouver Kiss
    Rich Lam—Getty Images

    The fiery riots in Vancouver, Canada, could not subdue the fiery passion between Australian native Scott Jones and Alexandra Thomas, who were photographed making out on the ground in the middle of the street during the chaos that broke out on June 15, 2011, after the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final. In the picture, taken by Getty Images photographer Rich Lam, Jones was trying to calm Thomas down after the two had been overwhelmed by the surge of police, The Toronto Star reports. Jones’s father Brett summed up the moment best on his Facebook page: “How’s that for making love, not war?”

  • World Leaders Don’t Kiss

    Benetton Ad
    Martin Bureau—AFP/Getty Images

    Presumably inspired by the Brezhnev-Honecker kiss, the clothing company United Colors of Benetton’s 2011 ad campaign for its UNHATE Foundation featured digitally manipulated images of world leaders kissing, including Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel locking lips with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, President Barack Obama with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-il with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. The image of Pope Benedict XVI kissing a high-profile Egyptian imam Ahmed el-Tayeb was removed after the Vatican condemned it as “offensive” to the Pope and Catholics in general. In a statement, the company defended the campaign as “symbolic images of reconciliation – with a touch of ironic hope and constructive provocation.”

  • The Obamas on The Kiss Cam

    Barack and Michelle Obama are pros at posing for the cameras, yet they did not expect to appear on the “Kiss Cam” at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. during an Olympic men’s exhibition basketball game between Team USA and Brazil on July 16, 2012. The first couple did not kiss when the camera zoomed in on them during the first half of the game — which reportedly prompted boos. But when it came around in the second half, the President kissed the First Lady so passionately that NBC’s Al Roker joked, “Mr. President, get a stadium!”

  • The Fastest Runner Kiss

    Usain Bolt
    Bob Thomas—Getty Images

    World champion Jamaican runner Usain Bolt kisses the track after winning the 100m and 200m races in record times at the London Summer Games on Aug. 9, 2012–a first in Olympic history. “I am a living legend,” he told The New York Times.

  • The Longest Kiss

    World's Longest Continuous Kiss
    Pornchai Kittiwongsakul—AFP/Getty Images

    The Guinness World Record for the longest kiss is 58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds, achieved by Ekkachai Tiranarat and Laksana Tiranarat at a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not event in Pattaya, Thailand, between February 12-14, 2013. They won a $3,300 cash prize and two diamond rings.

  • TIME Covers of Same-Sex Couples Kisses:

    TIME Gay Marriage
    Peter Hapak for TIME

    Two Apr. 8, 2013, TIME covers featuring the line “Gay Marriage Already Won” superimposed on portraits of same-sex couples kissing instantly went viral and sparked a lively debate. Illustrating an article on the public support for gay marriage leading up to the Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, the magazine argued the cover images “symbolized the love that is at the heart of the idea of marriage,” while commentary on The Wire argued, “that same-sex couples kissing on a magazine cover is still cause for surprise, for shock, for discussions and reactions and double takes, that it would even be a cover, means in fact we’re not quite all the way there.”

  • Speed Skaters Kiss

    Brian Snyder—Reuters

    Canadian speed skater Charles Hamelin skated over to his girlfriend, speed skater Marianne St-Gelais, and planted a big one on her while straddling the track barrier after winning a gold medal in the 1,500m short track on Feb. 10, 2014 at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The embrace was an encore of their kiss at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.


NFL Cheerleaders File Suit Saying They Make As Little As $2.85 Per Hour

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens
Patrick Smith—Getty Images

A Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader takes legal action against her team saying she makes less than minimum wage following a similar suit against the Oakland Raiders. Both plaintiffs say life on the squad is a lot harder than it looks on TV

Update: In March, the U.S. Department of Labor announced it closed its investigation of the Oakland Raiders, and concluded that the Raiders are exempt from paying its cheerleaders minimum wage, since they are considered “seasonal amusement,” which is any establishment that runs for less than seven months a year. The case will now go to private arbitration.

Every game day Alexa Brenneman , 24, a Ben Gal cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals, woke up at 4 a.m.to get ready. Her hair and make-up had to be perfect before she reached the stadium at 8 a.m. for two practices and autograph signing before the game started. After that, it was four straight hours of cheering, dancing, and smiling.

And she loved it.

Until she did the numbers on what she was being paid and realized she was being exploited.

Then she took action. Brenneman filed suit against the Bengals franchise on Tuesday. She is the second NFL cheerleader to take legal action against her team alleging that her hourly wages are so low, they’re less than minimum wage. In January, Lacy T. (her full name is not disclosed) filed a class-action lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders for wage theft. And just last week, another fellow Raiderette, Sarah G., 29, joined her.

Lacy T.’s lawsuit—which was the first to make waves in the cheer community–is on behalf of the current 40 Raiderettes and former cheerleaders, and states that the Raiders are in violation of California labor laws, which require a minimum wage of $8 per hour—even for part-time workers (all cheerleaders are fully informed it’s a part-time gig). The Labor Department in San Francisco confirms it is investigating the case.

The Raiderettes are paid a flat fee of $125 a game, which the women say is a nine-hour commitment. That’s about $1,250 for a 10 game season, which the lawsuit says breaks down to around $5 an hour if you include the unpaid hours in practices, events and photo shoots. And they don’t see a paycheck until the end of the Raiders’ season—in January.

On the Ben-Gals squad, Brenneman was paid a total of $855 for her time as a Ben-Gals cheerleader, and says she spent over 300 hours performing, practicing and attending events. (The one week she missed a game for a funeral, she wasn’t paid.) Minimum wage in Ohio is $7.85, but Brenneman’s pay comes to about less than $2.85 an hour.

Similar payment for cheerleaders is common across the NFL—although Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks, pay minimum wage and overtime for their cheerleaders, the Sea Gals. “We have been doing this for years, and I have never seen a contract like this. This women don’t understand that this is illegal,” says Leslie Levy, one of the cheerleaders’ lawyers.

If the numbers alleged by the plaintiffs are correct, NFL cheerleader wages are at something close to or less than those of unskilled minimum wage workers. But advocates say cheerleading is a profession that demands specific skills and not everyone can land the job. It’s considered a sport in of itself and requires significant training that’s intensively competitive and physically demanding. It’s also one of the most injury prone activities in which a high school or college athlete can participate. The American Academy of Pediatrics says football cheerleading accounts for 70.8 percent of injuries to female college athletes.

Cheerleaders are not the primary money-makers for the NFL, but they are an important and arguably essential part of the draw for many teams. Having a squad is evidence of a successful franchise. A famous squad like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders can still rake in about $1 million per season for their franchise. And as a whole, the NFL is the most lucrative sport in America. In 2012, the Oakland Raiders were valued at $825 million, with revenue of $229 million. The NFL, a tax-exempt organization, brings in about $9 billion in revenue annually, and hopes to bring in $25 billion by 2027.

Lacy says she realized she wanted a pair of legal eyes to look at her contract as she was getting ready to shoot the annual Raiderettes swimsuit calendar. “We were traveling a lot for mandatory events. After a while, I realized I was spending so much money and I wasn’t getting paid until the end of the season,” says Lacy. She was used to better conditions when she was a cheerleader for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. They paid her $10 the hour and reimbursed her for expenses. She spent $650 of her own money on Raiderette expenses.

According to the Raiderettes’ contract, they’re required to attend a minimum of 10 “charity” appearances without any form of compensation. The women do not get any cut from the promotional merchandise. The calendars they pose for? The only perk is they can buy the calendars at cost. They’re required to use special stylists so their hair and appearance is up to snuff—all of which is paid out of pocket. If they wear the wrong outfit to practice, they are fined $10.

Mascots on the other hand, make much more. Although their salaries are not public, the Raiderettes lawyers say that from their research, mascots make $30 to $60K a year. Whether the mascots have other jobs within the team that adds to that amount is unclear.

So if these women are working for a very lucrative franchise, and they think they are underpaid, why haven’t they demanded better wages before? Part of it is the sense that they are “lucky” to get the chance to be NFL cheerleaders. Lacy and other cheerleaders report that they’re told that there are hundreds of women who would take their place. “I didn’t feel comfortable complaining about my pay. They would probably just kick me off the team,” says Lacy when asked why she didn’t talk to her superiors about a pay increase right away.

The culture to keep quiet and not complain about pay is common across squads. Even current NFL cheerleaders I know personally declined to talk to me about their treatment or the Raiderettes’ case. “This isn’t something I wanted to have to do,” says Brenneman. “But I have a great respect for my squad and myself and this craft, and someone needs to take a stand for us as athletes.”

Reactions to the lawsuit among the Raiderettes and the cheer community are mixed. Some women tell Lacy and Sarah to keep up the fight. Others feel they’ve betrayed an unwritten code. Lacy received several emails she chose not to read for fear that they’d be negative about her suit.

“Do they pay a lot? No they don’t. But there are women who would continue to do it if they paid even less. It’s really not amount the money. It’s about the opportunity, and the prestige, and loving the sport and the game,” says Starr Spangler Rey, 27, a former three-season Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader—now a management consultant. “I’ve seen women manage families, children, full-time careers. People make it work because it’s something that they love to do.”

According to Rey, everyone knows the job doesn’t pay well, and the women are told they should be doing something else to move towards their career goals. Lacy T. is a stay-at-home mom, Sarah G is a flight attendant, and Brenneman is a fitness instructor. When Rey was cheering for the Dallas cowboys, she was an undergrad at Texas Christian University, and was financially supported by her parents. She describes the time management as “intense.”

“There are many reasons girls end up cheering, and I don’t think money is one of them. Is it unfortunate? Yes. Do I agree with it? Not really. But at the same time, it is what it is,” says Rey.

And what it is is a profession where the participants are subject to rules that extend past the playing field and include guidelines that stipulate their beauty maintenance routines and their behavior. A Raiderette guidebook that was released to the Los Angeles Times listed behavior demands like: “There’s not a female alive (or male either) who doesn’t like attention. But you need to learn to deal with attention you receive from the public (and especially the players) without it getting out of hand and going to your head.” And it made more than one mention of being careful at parties–evening citing a formerly popular annual Halloween party hosted by a player: “This same player was suspended from the team for drug use but also arrested for date rape. For you on the squad who have attended those parties, just think how narrowly you missed having your photo in all the local papers and/or being assaulted.”

While cheerleading is much more recognized as an athletic endeavor nationally ( there’s even a push to make it an Olympic sport), in the NFL, it’s often discussed in terms closer to a beauty pageant and without much regard to the physical skill needed to do the job. Both Lacy and Sarah started dancing competitively in very early childhood, and Lacy even had a scholarship to dance in college. They are serious about their craft.

Yet, the women (who refer to themselves as ‘girls’) are not quick to call their situation sexist, although Lacy says that as she’s stepped back from the culture, she sees the women were taken advantage of, when they were just trying to keep part of their dancing dreams alive. Something both Lacy and Sarah admit family and friends saw long before they did.

“I had sleepless nights [when I was deciding to go public]. I was sick to my stomach. I was having a blast and making great friends,” says Lacy. “But I knew this was something I had to do for myself and all my friends on the team. I knew many of these girls would never talk to me again, and it’s hard when friends turn their back on you for something you did for their rights.”

The Cincinnati Bengals sent TIME the following response to the lawsuit: “The Ben-Gals cheerleading program has long been a program run by former cheerleaders and has enjoyed broad support in the community and by members of the squad. Yesterday’s lawsuit appears to be a copycat lawsuit that mimics the one filed last month in California against a different NFL club. The Bengals will address the litigation in due course.”

The Oakland Raiders and the NFL declined to comment for this piece.


A Brief History of Sex at the Olympics

New Zealand v United States
Hope Solo Stephen Lam—Getty Images

Are we really that surprised?

Tuesday the internet erupted in a wave of Sochi shock that had nothing to do with dangerous half pipes, packs of wild dogs, or atrocious hotel accommodations.

Can you believe that Olympic athletes are all using Tinder—a DATING APP—at the Olympic village? So much so that “Tinder hook-ups [are] off the hook”? This is completely unexpected. Why would the world’s best athletes, in their physical prime, with endorphins to kill and calories to burn, and who are all compressed in a small living space be so interested in this particular extracurricular activity?

Tinder-gate of Sochi 2014 is just the most recent round of faux-surprise that Olympians might, in fact, be having sex. (Because while it’s ok to allude to the deed by sexifying female athletes, the idea that anyone’s having any actual sex is a different thing completely.)

We’ve rounded up a history of how sex at Olympic village has been covered over the last few decades. And judging by the florid prose in the dispatches below, the journalists seem to be pretty overheated as well.

Sochi 2014:

The games have just begun, but it’s already the year of Tinder and talk of 100,000 condoms circulating around the Olympic Village.

London 2012:

The London Olympics probably saw the most headlines regarding athlete-on-athlete sexcapades. “Gay app Grindr crashes as Olympic athletes arrive in London,” read the Mirror. “Could London 2012 be the raunchiest games ever?” asked the Daily Mail. “Steamy London Olympics: A Condom-a-Day, Per Athlete,” wrote Businessweek of the 150,000 condoms distributed. “Who Will Win the Sex Olympics?” questioned Forbes — Durex was the right answer.

Althletes were particularly candid about their sex lives, as well. “I’ve seen people having sex right out in the open,” U.S. soccer star Hope Solo told ESPN in a long expose of Olympians’ sexual encounters. “On the grass, between buildings, people are getting down and dirty.”

Ryan Lochte said: “My last Olympics, I had a girlfriend — big mistake. Now I’m single, so London should be really good. I’m excited.”

We’ll reveal other athlete sex secrets exposed to ESPN as our timeline continues.

Vancouver 2010:

Snowboarder Scotty Lago, 22, went home earlier than anticipate after TMZ leaked a photo showing a fan biting on his bronze medal when it was hanging from his belt buckle. (He had no events left to compete in.)

CNN ran the headline, “Vancouver medals in condom distribution”

ESPN reported that six athletes had an orgy in a hot tub right outside the Village.

Beijing 2008:

Former Olympic table tennis player Matthew Syed wrote an article for the Times of London noting that there was a “sex fest… right here in Beijing. Olympic athletes have to display an unnatural… level of self-discipline in the build-up to big competitions. How else is this going to manifest itself than with a volcanic release of pent-up hedonism.” This led to a headlines asserting that the Olympic Village hosted “More Sex than Woodstock.”

Page Six discussed Michael Phelps “celebrated his record-breaking eight gold medals in Beijing by sneaking off for a sizzling game of tonsil hockey with one of Australia’s hottest Olympians.” (She was his girlfriend.)

Oh, and Beijing authorities distributed 400,000 condoms to more than 400 hotels in the Olympic city, said the AFP. Although other sources reported only 100,000 were provided for athletes.

Solo told ESPN in 2012 that she slept with a celebrity in Beijing, but she wouldn’t say who it was.

Salt Lake City 2002:

The conservative city hosted some protests against Olympic policies to distribute free condoms to athletes.

Sydney 2000:

Officials thought that 70,000 (rainbow) condoms would be enough. They had to send out for 20,000 more after a week.

Javelin thrower Breaux Greer told ESPN that he had relations with three women every day of the Olympics — two were other Olympians and another was a tourist. He had to leave the games due to a knee injury. But as a consolation prize, he did end up with a famous (unnamed) Olympian in the airplane bathroom on the flight back to Los Angeles.

Norway 1994:

Skier Carrie Sheinberg told ESPN that two German bobsledders “made it clear that they’d trade me their gold for all kinds of other favors. I said jokingly, ‘Thanks, but Tommy Moe has a medal. I’ll play with his.'”

Barcelona 1992:

Even though he played ping pong, Matthew Syed said he “got laid more often in those two and a half weeks than the rest of my life up to that point.”

This is when condoms began getting offered to Olympians to encourage safe sex during the games.

Seoul 1988

There were reports of so many condoms found on the roofs of Olympic residences that the Olympic Association banned outdoor sex.


Incredible Images from Day 8 of the Sochi Olympics

Moments and mishaps from Day 8 of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

TIME olympics

Plushenko’s Retirement Is Proof He Should Have Quit Before Sochi

Sochi Olympics Figure Skating
Evgeni Plushenko of Russia waves to spectators after he pulled out of the men's short program figure skating competition due to illness at the Iceberg Skating Palace, Feb. 13, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Ivan Sekretarev—AP

The iconic Russian figure skater, hobbled by injuries, should have given way to a younger generation before the Sochi Olympics began

After his aborted performance on Thursday—and the subsequent announcement of his retirement—it became all too clear that Evgeni Plushenko should have passed the torch to a younger skater before the Sochi Olympics commenced. For nearly a decade, the flamboyant figure skater has dominated the sport in Russia. At the age of 31, which is right around retirement age for an Olympic figure skater, he decided to try his Olympic luck for the third time despite a recent spinal surgery. It worked out well for him on Sunday, when he won a gold medal along with nine of his teammates in Sochi as part of the team figure skating competition. But four days later, when it came time for him to perform in the men’s singles, he skated up to the judges booth after a warm-up and told them he couldn’t go on. With that, Team Russia’s chances of a gold dropped to zero in the event where it has long been dominant.

As TIME reported earlier this week, Plushenko’s back was troubling him toward the end of his solo performance at Sunday’s team event. But he and his coaches boldly decided to carry on. “There are no healthy athletes in the major leagues,” said his coach, Alexei Mishin. “Everybody hurts.” Plushenko even suggested that he might compete in the next Winter Games four years from now.

That sounded almost delusional. On the strength of his remaining talents, it had been hard for him even to make it into these Olympics. He lost a key qualifying round in December to a young upstart named Maxim Kovtun, who is 12 years younger than Plushenko and approaching his prime. But the veteran wouldn’t give up. He refused to compete in the last qualifying round for Sochi, saying that he was too busy training for the Olympics, and he used his celebrity status in Russia to help lobby for another shot. After much debate in the press, he got it.

The Russian figure skating association allowed him to dance a “control run” for a committee of skating experts less than three weeks before the Games. Although that performance was never shown to the public or the press, the committee ruled that it was enough to give Plushenko a ticket to Sochi.

That now looks to have been a mistake. The pain that began bothering him during the team event on Sunday never went away, his coach said on Thursday. Then things got worse. The day before the singles event, Plushenko took a heavy fall during training. “The pain didn’t let up in the morning,” Mishin told a Russian newspaper. “We took medication, but it didn’t help.”

Russia, which has no replacement for him in the men’s short program, is now out of that contest, which should have offered one of its best chances for another gold. And they needed it. A week into the Games, Russia has only two golds and stands in seventh place in the overall medals tally, behind Switzerland. Plushenko had a chance to turn that around, but the chances of a younger skater would clearly have been better.

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