Over the years, we’ve seen more women coaching men in professional sports. From Becky Hammon joining the San Antonio Spurs staff a couple years ago, to both the Arizona Cardinals and Buffalo Bills adding Jen Welter and Phoebe Schecter, respectively, to their staffs either as assistants or interns, we’ve come a long way over the years from the times when many didn’t think men making millions of dollars would listen to a woman coaching them.
Unfortunately, as much progress as we’ve made, things still aren’t perfect — and a new, in-depth feature from SB Nation about women coaching men in pro sports is just the latest example of that. In fact, it’s pretty sad to see.
According to the well-written piece, one current, longtime NBA coach even went as far as saying this:
“By and large the NBA is an incredibly sexist environment,” says the veteran NBA coach. “I listen to players talk about women. I have a daughter and it’s sometimes disturbing. But it’s nothing new. It hasn’t gotten worse over the years. In our society there are men uncomfortable working under women and a handful of our players would have a problem with it.”
“You can’t have a hot woman in the NBA,” says one veteran NBA coach. “Guys will be trying to fuck her every day.”
To echo that statement, former NFL offensive lineman Kyle Turley added this:
“This is a place where couth and tact are thrown out the window,” adds former New Orleans Saints offensive lineman Kyle Turley. “What’s gonna happen to your organization with the first sexual harassment lawsuit because some player throws a helicopter at one of these ladies?”
It’s a sad truth, but one that clearly seems to have put a barrier between more women coaching male athletes and finding themselves left on the sideline. Well, along with some pundits believing that women coaching a men’s team don’t have the qualifications. Here’s what longtime radio host Mike Francesa said in 2017 about women coaching.
“Not everybody is attuned or designed to do every single job,” said Francesa in 2017. “And as we move forward there’s no saying that everybody has to be able to do every single job. Some are better for some people, that’s all. That’s not being chauvinistic. That’s not being stone-aged. That’s just being reasonable. I’m just looking at this with some modicum of common sense.”
But not everyone is as skeptical. For instance, Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch and NBA player Michael Carter-Williams believe that, no matter what gender a person is, if they can help an athlete perform better, they’re all for learning.
Said Hinch, “I don’t subscribe to the theory that you had to have done it to be an expert. Expertise in a sport can come a lot of different ways.”
And here’s what Carter-Williams said, “Experience leads to bonding, to relating. As an athlete you know they understand you.”
A couple weeks ago, the Cleveland Browns tossed out the idea of potentially interviewing a woman for their next head coach. This caught a lot of people by surprise, but is it that farfetched? Based off of some of the reactions after rumors swirled that that woman might be former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, some certainly think so.
Women coaching in a male pro sport is still one of those issues that needs to be addressed, and, as much progress as we’ve made over the years, a quote like the one given by the veteran NBA coach only hurts the movement. True or not, it’s something that shouldn’t even be an issue when considering someone qualified to do a job well done.
To read the full SB Nation piece, head on over to their website. It’s really interesting to see the amount of research they did on the topic.