The Sea Gals, a fixture on the sidelines of Seahawks games since the team’s first year in 1976, are no more.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be dancing on the sidelines, and in the end zones and midfield during breaks in the action at CenturyLink Field this fall.
Instead, the Seahawks have announced they are rebranding the Sea Gals as the Seahawks Dancers for the 2019 season, and have added men to the squad for the first time — eight are shown in a picture of the 2019 Seahawks Dancers, along with 30 women.
In a statement, the Seahawks said the change is part of a continued evolution in the team’s game-day entertainment.
“(There is) no specific reason other than just an evolution of the program, similar to other entertainment updates we’ve made over the years such as the addition of our Blue Thunder drum line in 2004,’’ wrote Kaitlin Goodall, director of business communications, in an email. “The Sea Gals have been an integral part of the Seahawks organization for decades, and the Seahawks Dancers will continue to carry on the legacy of great game-day entertainment as well as work in the community.’’
Men have become an increasing presence on the dance and/or cheerleading squads of NFL teams in recent seasons.
The Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans all have added men as part of their dance or cheerleading teams over the past few years and the Baltimore Ravens have long had what they have referred to as male “stuntmen’’ as a part of their dance team.
Two of the Rams’ male cheerleaders performed at the Super Bowl in February, the first men to perform at the game.
While the Seahawks say the change is being made for no specific reason, the recent moves by NFL teams to add diversity and change the focus of their cheerleading/dance squads have come in the wake of some well-publicized lawsuits and complaints by former NFL cheerleaders against teams alleging harassment and/or hostile workplace environments.
Former cheerleaders with the Houston Texans, Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints have all filed suit in recent years alleging discrimination and/or workplace-environment issues.
And the Buffalo Bills dropped their cheerleading team in 2014 after five former members filed suit against the club.
The first NFL team to field a cheerleading squad is generally considered to be the Baltimore Colts in 1954, as part of the Baltimore Colts Marching Band.
Five teams in the league do not have cheerleaders — the Bills, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers — while the Green Bay Packers do not have their own team but use cheerleaders from two local colleges who perform during games.
As for the Seahawks, “the new name reflects a continued evolution to our overall game-day entertainment,’’ Goodall wrote. “We are excited for fans to see a new variety of dance styles this season.’’