Report: NBA Dancer Teams Rife With Low Pay, Eating Disorders

NBA dancers endure bullying from coaches, eating disorders, and body-shaming, all to be paid less than the price of a ticket for performing at a game, according to more than a dozen current and former dancers interviewed for a Monday report by Yahoo Lifestyle. The majority of the dancers alleged they faced strict scrutiny about their weight, and were often sidelined or shamed if they deviated from their coach’s expectations. One former Milwaukee Bucks dancer told Yahoo that her coach used to make her sit in a broom closet before games to “think about if I was doing everything to be able to lose weight [...] You know, basically like a child in time-out.”

Many of the women also say it’s impossible to survive on a dancer’s salary alone. Salaries ranged from $10 to $15 per hour, part-time—but the women say that their mandatory beauty upkeep, including hair extensions, tanning, and manicures, ate up the vast majority of their compensation. Their salaries stand in contrast to both ticket prices for the games at which they perform—most women reported being paid around $50 per game; the average ticket price is $78—and the hundreds of millions of dollars the NBA rakes in each year. “Was it enough to make ends meet? Not even close,” said a former dancer for the Phoenix Suns. “That was one of the hardest parts. If girls were doing OK, it was because their parents were funding them. I was self-funding, so I had three jobs. I was getting up at 4 a.m. and working until 11:30 p.m.”