Pro sports should hire more women

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

Finally, professional sports are catching up to the rest of the world.

For years, women have been ignored when it comes to coaching in men’s professional sports. The stigma is, how can you coach in a league that you’ve never played in?

However, the professional leagues are full of coaches that have never played professionally. Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick and Eric Spoelstra are examples of championship winning coaches who never played at the elite level of the sport they mastered as instructors.

For some reason, teams have generally stayed away from hiring women across the board. Last year, one of the best teams and coaches in the NBA crushed that notion when San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich hired Becky Hammon as an assistant coach.

Last year, one of the best teams and coaches in the NBA crushed that notion when San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich hired Becky Hammon as an assistant coach.

Hammon was a star during her time at Colorado State University as well as in the WNBA. She proved throughout her career that she knows the game and understands how to win. Popovich saw this and last year appointed her the Head Coach of the Spurs Summer League team.

How did Hammon respond? She led the Spurs to a championship in that league and was a vital assistant for San Antonio last season until their first round playoff loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Her success is crucial for all women who would like to coach men’s professional sports. Had she fell flat on her face, the opportunities could have easily gone away. But she didn’t and the possibilities are starting to pile up.

Women are making their mark in the professional sports world. In February, one of the best franchises of all sports, the St. Louis Cardinals, hired 26-year-old Rachel Balkovec to be their minor league strength and conditioning coach for the organization. Then in July, the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL hired Jen Welter to be an assistant coaching intern, later becoming the first female to coach professional football.

The Oakland Athletics have recently capitalized on the trend and hired a female as well. In September, the club announced that Justine Siegal would be a guest instructor at the Fall Instructional League, which made her the first female coach at the top level of the league.

It’s empowering to see that women are getting these opportunities to coach men. Just because women have yet to break the barrier and play in a major professional men’s sport does not mean that they are not capable of understanding and coaching the game to the opposite sex. Sports is one of the most sexist aspects in all of society. Women were only allowed in locker rooms to conduct interviews as recently as the 1980s and 1990s, so it is understandable that sports are behind the rest of the world when it comes to women’s inclusion.

Professional teams need to be proactive and understand that a woman can and will coach just as good as any man in the world. We as a society have to give qualified women the chance to show people that they can coach men and be respected in a head coaching role. Not one player on the Spurs complained or made an issue of Hammon when she led their summer league team. In fact, they praised and applauded her for capturing what many viewed as a meaningless championship — “It’s just preseason,” “It doesn’t even count,” many people commented. What  Hammon did for the Spurs was knock down a huge barrier for all women in men’s professional sports that has allowed Welter, Balkovec and Siegal to get a chance to coach some of the best athletes in the world. She proved women can coach at the highest professional level and be successful doing it.

Hopefully the rest of the professional teams are taking note and give females the same opportunities that the men have.