Washington Football Team Replaces Cheerleaders with Co-Ed Dance Squad

by Will Shepard
(Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

The Washington Football Team is ending its cheerleading program after more than 50 years. Instead, the team is replacing it with a coed dance group. This being done in an effort to rebrand the team image.

The team said last month that the cheerleading program is going to be paused while they work on rebranding. The goal of the franchise is to create a more modern feel that connects with more of the population.

Petra Pope, who is working on game-day entertainment, spoke to ESPN about the decision to move away from female cheerleaders.

“With that comes inclusivity, diversity, and in my mind, as an entertainer, athleticism. My desire is to create a team that is all of that – inclusive, diverse, coed, athletic –to set the gold standard in the NFL. We’re looking for that super athlete that can dance, perform tricks and stunts and manipulate whatever props that will create a really great show.”

Even though the Washington Football Team is heading in a new direction, the cheerleaders can all still be involved. However, they will all still need to try out and make the dance squad. According to Pope, the organization is hiring 36 dancers.

“Change can be extremely difficult. I appreciate the passion that the ladies have and can relate to that passion because I’ve been a mentor for thousands of dancers over my career. As we progress to a reimagined era, the choreography will be much more athletic. We welcome the dancers of the past to audition, and if they have that skill set, they’re welcome to join us.”

The Washington Football Team Is Creating a Dance Squad Instead of a Cheerleading Team

The Washington Football Team president, Jason Wright, mentions that he wants to make halftime more like the NBA. This is something that Pope is well acquainted with. In fact, she spent 33 years working with the LA Lakers dancing team. She also has a long history of professional sports entertainment.

In a statement from Wright, he talks about how he wants the Washington Football Team to be at the forefront of entertainment. In a lot of ways, the team desperately needs to set the trends, rather than having to re-form to the times.

“As we set out to modernize the Washington Football gameday, it’s important that we develop a top-notch entertainment program that keeps our fanbase excited and connected to the game and the team.”

It has long been a staple for cheerleading teams to do a photo calendar of the squad. But, this year, Pope is unsure about whether or not this will be happening for the dance group. But she is certainly leaning towards it not taking shape.

The changing of the cheerleading squad is a minor change that the Washington Football team is making. So, keep an eye out for other changing aspects for the team in the future.