The Carolina Panthers' TopCats figure prominently on a list of NFL cheerleader teams with quirky rules.
TopCats members “must arrive at the stadium on game days at least five hours before kickoff,” according to a recent article published by the New York Times.
“Body piercings and tattoos must be removed or covered. Water breaks can be taken only when the Panthers are on offense,” the Times reported. And TopCats have to leave the stadium before changing into their own clothes, it was reported.
The same article goes on to cite other NFL cheerleader teams for having equally strict rules, including personal hygiene tips like shaving techniques and the proper use of tampons. In some cases, wearing sweatpants in public is forbidden, reported the Times.
Attention heightened this year on the TopCats when it was announced outgoing owner Jerry Richardson had left the franchise’s day-to-day management up to Tina Becker, who got her start with the organization as one of the cheerleaders.
Becker was hired by the Panthers in 1999 as full-time coordinator for the TopCats, and she ran the TopCats’ youth program. Before that, she was one of the team’s cheerleaders.
The TopCats web page says cheerleaders can join the team only after agreeing to serve as "ambassadors" for the Carolina Panthers. That includes a requirement to donate time to charitable causes and corporate appearances.
They also have to pass periodic drug screenings and "satisfactorily complete a criminal and civil background check, including driving history." The team does not have height and weight requirements, but says cheerleaders must be "physically fit."
Women auditioning for the squad are also given tips on hair and make-up. "Wear make-up in colors that flatter your skin tone. A natural but polished look is recommended. Wear a hairstyle that complements your features but does not hide your face."
Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs