Pro Cheerleaders Say Groping and Sexual Harassment Are Part of the Job

When venturing into tailgate areas of parking lots, cheerleaders sometimes go in pairs or small groups to feel safer.

“There wasn’t any protection from it,” Ms. Holt said. “You have to run around the tailgates, go to the tents, mingle with fans and shake the pompoms. And you sometimes get the disgusting old men who have been drinking and will say something inappropriate. It is common, and the industry knows that.”

A longtime cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys recalled a home game when her squad walked near a group of Philadelphia Eagles fans. “We were walking by, waving and smiling, and one guy caught my eye,” said the cheerleader, who requested anonymity because she, like many others, was forced to sign a nondisclosure agreement. “He looked at me and said, ‘I hope you get raped!’ That’s the kind of stuff we’d have yelled at us. Even from our fans, once they get drunk, they yell things, and you’re like, ‘Really?’ It’s part of the job. It comes with it. You’re supposed to take it.”

The Cowboys and the Titans did not respond to requests for comment. The N.F.L. declined to address cheerleaders’ specific claims. In a statement, a…

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