Sporting events don’t get much bigger than the Super Bowl.
The match played in Atlanta on 3 February 2019 decided the champion of the National Football League for the 2018 season.
The New England Patriots defeated the LA Rams, 13-3. Maroon 5 played the half-time show. Nearly 100 million people watched the match.
While the match itself is being critiqued as low-scoring and unexciting, and the half-time show is being described as forgettable, one point of interest was that this was the first time that male cheerleaders made an appearance at a Super Bowl.
Obviously, male cheerleaders are nothing new. Take a look at any high school cheerleading squad and it’s clear that male cheerleaders are essential members of the team – providing a lot of the strength and foundation of the tricks and towers that win cheerleading trophies. But they are a new thing in the National Football League.
This is the first season that NFL cheer squads have included male members. Jesse Hernandez joined the squad at the New Orleans Saints, and Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron joined the squad at the LA Rams. With the Rams making it all the way to the Super Bowl, that meant that 100 million people got to watch Jinnies and Peron working their pom poms.
Jinnies and Peron are both professional dancers, and were among 300 people who auditioned to be Rams cheerleaders last year.
The BBC went to Atlanta to talk to fans about what they thought of having male cheerleaders in the NFL – the reaction was overwhelmingly positive.
“There’s been no backlash or anything silly like that…” said one fan. “It’s just been embraced. It has to happen, it’s 2019 now.”
To celebrate the success of Jinnies and Peron, let’s show them some Instagram love.