A NEW ELEMENT has been added to pro football. Thanks to the showmanship of the Dallas Cowboys, female cheerleaders have become as important as the teams, and every pro football club owner is determined to present the sexiest girls that money can buy.

The competion is so fierce that there is now talk of the NFL holding a draft for college cheerleaders similar to the one they hold for players. The team with the worst cheerleading records would have the first picks of the new crop. There are trades now going on between the cheerleader coaches in the NFL, and every pro organization is looking for someone to bolster its line.

I was in the office of the coach of the Washington Redskinettes, and there was a great flurry of activity.

The coach was on the phone to the Los Angeles Rams. I heard her say, "Harriet, we need an offensive pompon girl. We'll give you two baton twirlers and a 1979 draft pick in exchange for a six-foot blond with a 40-inch bust . . . No, we don't want her. Our scouts say she uses silicone. What about Genevieve? We hear she's fighting with the other girls and wants to move to Washington. I'll trade you Candy and Susie for her . . . What do you mean they're too old? Candy and Susie are in their prime. They haven't dropped a baton in six games. If they don't get injured, they're good for four more seasons. Get back to me because I may make a deal with the Boston Patriots."

The Redskinette coach told her secretary to get the St. Louis Cardinals cheerleader coach on the phone. "Mabel, how would you like defensive redhead who can do handstands? Joe Namath says she has the best legs in pro football. She can do 'Saturday Night Fever' in four minutes flat, and the ABC cameras had her on for 30 seconds while Howard Cosell was talking about Muhammad Ali . . . What do I want in exchange? Do you have a brunet who can do cartwheels and splits? . . . No, I'm not selling you a dog. We have too many redheads on the squad now, but we're weak on brunets who can do cartwheels . . . Honest to Pete, Mabel, I hate to trade her, but I can only use her at halftime, and she says if she can't dance during the entire game she doesn't want to sit on the bench . . . No, I can't offer you our first draft choice for 1980. We gave her away to Baltimore for Miss Maryland of 1971. We needed some depth during the TV commercial breaks. Will get back to me?"

One of the Redskinettes' assistants came in. "Mary, Helen wants to put on waivers. She just broke up with one of the Redskins, and she says she doesn't have the heart to cheer for our team anymore."

"Oh God," the coach said. "We built Sousa's entire Washington Post March number around her. Can't we find her another player?"

"I spoke to Coach Jack Pardee, and he said he can't spare anymore players for the cheerleading team. He's having enough trouble with bed checks now."

"Where does she want to go?"

"She said she'd like to cheer for Cleveland."

"Does Cleveland have anybody we want?"

"How are her hips?"

"Terrific. She gets more applause when her back is to the crowd than when she's facing it. And she can wiggle her fanny to the 'Marine Corps Hymn."

"Why would Cleveland want to trade her?"

"She fumbles a lot."

"All right. I'll call Cleveland. Is there anything else?"

"The Women's Lib delegation is still sitting out in the hall on the floor waiting to see you."

"What on earth do they want to talk to me about?"

"Beats me."