In an effort to rebrand their franchise, the Washington Football Team is getting rid of its cheerleader program. Starting in the 2021 season, the franchise will have a coed dance team instead of a cheerleading squad.
The Washington Football Team announced in February that the team's cheerleader program -- which has existed for over five decades -- was being put on pause while a decision was made on how the cheerleading squad fits into the franchise's rebrand.
Ultimate, they came to the conclusion that a coed dance team is the best way to modernize the franchise. The team's new senior adviser, Petra Pope, played a big part in the decision, as her role focuses on creating a "more modern franchise."
"With that comes inclusivity, diversity and in my mind, as an entertainer, athleticism," Pope told ESPN. "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."
Pope worked for decades on gameday entertainment staffs for multiple NBA teams. She also told ESPN that former members of the franchise's cheerleading squad can try out for the coed dance team, which will consist of 36 people.
"Change can be extremely difficult," Pope added. "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."