When is racial equality not racial equality?

This is fun:

When the NFL first was made to formally address the embarrassing lack of diversity in its coaching and front-office ranks back in the early aughts, a scant three of the league’s 32 teams were helmed by minority head coaches. Seventeen years since the introduction of the Rooney Rule, which requires all clubs to interview at least one minority candidate for its openings at head coach and general manager, the grand total entering the 2020 season has inched upward to four: the Dolphins’ Brian Flores, the Chargers’ Anthony Lynn and the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, who are African American, and Washington’s Ron Rivera, who is Hispanic.

Lately it feels like we’re moving backwards. Only three of the 20 head coaching gigs that have opened up since the end of the 2017 season have been filled by minorities, an unacceptable outcome in a league where more than 70% of the players are African American.

Management of American football must reflect the society which is being managed. But the player roster of American football does not have to match the wider society.

Fun, eh?

29 thoughts on “When is racial equality not racial equality?”

  1. The Meissen Bison

    …and having devoured said cake, declare it wasn’t cake at all and demand fresh cake plus interest on the cake as compensation for the cakelessness of the earlier cake which wasn’t cake.

  2. The policy of the South African government requiring representative sports teams to include a designated minimum number of black players did not result in on-field success (although it was a significant factor in Kevin Petersen’s decision to play for England – thank you).

    US professional sports teams are ruthless in firing underperforming management. If a plethora of quality black coaches were out there they would have been hired. In a similar vein if there were more white footballers and basketball players of the requisite quality they would be playing in the NBA and NFL. There aren’t though.

  3. It’s simple; ‘diversity’ just means fewer white people. When there are no white people, that’s 100% diverse.

  4. “US professional sports teams are ruthless in firing underperforming management. If a plethora of quality black coaches were out there they would have been hired”

    This +100

    The idea that the ruthless pursuit of success is cast aside because of race is absurd.

    “Hey, this coach could win us the Superbowl”

    “Yeah, but he’s black so let’s not hire him”

    I’m not saying that their might not be a team owner who thinks like that, but if there is, it’s a tiny minority. And if they were that racist, their team would look a lot different.

  5. Premier League football should not restart until the skins of the arbiters reflects those of wider society. And no one should get a blood donation until the same is true of donors.
    Can’t we just be free to do as we like, so long as we don’t harm others. ( using JS Mill value of harm )

  6. LGBTQ+ community: how have you been affected by the lockdown?

    I expect they have been “ruthlessly oppressed”.

  7. Not that I agree with the proposed solutions to the small number of black coaches, but it does seem possible, perhaps even likely, that white team owners will relate to white coaches better, be more comfortable talking to them, find their communication style more in line with their own, etc. So even though they want to win very badly they may be naturally inclined to hire white coaches and general managers.

    What I find missing from these discussions is the fact that a large percentage of players in the NFL aren’t remotely “head coach material”. If the analysis focused on only those players who were literate, well-spoken and could articulate a strategic plan, perhaps the disparity would be much smaller.

    On the other hand, John Madden was a successful head coach.

  8. LGBTQ+ community: how have you been affected by the lockdown?

    Geezer-in-Frock “Terrible. Terrible. I haven’t been mis-pronouned in two months. Life’s been hardly worth living”

  9. ‘When the NFL first was made to formally address the embarrassing lack of diversity’

    ‘Made to?’ ‘Embarrassing?’

    The NFL succumbed to Lefty agitprop. They have since succumbed to other Lefty agitprop.

    Note that Flores and Lynn aren’t going to be around much longer. Their teams suck. Tomlin is getting weak.

    Rivera, long time coach at Carolina Panthers, was not generally regarded as Hispanic. He is, but it is not an identifier. I.e., no identity politics associated with him.

    I don’t know about these other teams, but I think it likely there is no identity politics going on with them, either. This racist shit is all outsiders. Third parties, trying to impose their will on the NFL.

    And the NFL listens to it.

  10. Esteban.

    You may be correct about the NFL. However at the beginning of the current NBA season there were no less than 9 black head coaches for the 30 teams. A pretty substantial over-representation by any ones standards.

    Those black coaches were almost all hired by white team owners because they were the best candidates for the position. I very much doubt their colour was a consideration.

  11. It’s turning into feminism: we want equality, but only for cushy and/or well-paid jobs. White men can keep the tough / dirty jobs.

  12. The Meissen Bison

    LGBTQ+ community: how have you been affected by the lockdown?

    A community member responds:

    “The lockdown is a cis-normative social construct and should be cis-tematically ignored. I decided to voluntarily remain confined at home which for intersectional commentators like me has been a life-affirming and empowering period. Which reminds me: Xe needs to talk to the clinic again”.

  13. On this logic we would have to insist on fewer black players in Premier League football and fewer Polynesians in rugby.

    Personally I’d like to see more Koreans in Premier League football because the present chap is very entertaining.

  14. Dearime -“because the present chap is very entertaining.”

    Son, I presume, but this is exactly Malcolm Gladwell’s explanation for this kind of disparity. Coaches (and in this case owners) don’t know precisely what they’re looking for so they base it on a few successfull individuals that’ve gone before and try to emulate that… and human nature tends to add appearance to that thing they’re trying to emulate. So you get “sticky” features that persist in a role which don’t have its hard to tell whether they go with the role itself but they do. Every now and then an individual is so good that doesn’t conform to the previous standard and so a new one is set. I give that argument quite a lot of respect, the problems always come in when someone proposes what they’re going to do about it. The answer is ,,, think out of the box,, do the moneyball approach (which don’t work anymore cos everyone’s emulated it) but do the new moneyball approach which is exactly what people are searching all day and all night to find.

  15. Eughh… edited the middle bit.

    Dearime -“because the present chap is very entertaining.”

    Son, I presume, but this is exactly Malcolm Gladwell’s explanation for this kind of disparity. Coaches (and in this case owners) don’t know precisely what they’re looking for so they base it on a few successful individuals that’ve gone before and try to emulate that… and human nature tends to add appearance to that thing they’re trying to emulate. So you get “sticky” features that persist in a role which may or may not go with success in the role itself. Every now and then an individual is so good that doesn’t conform to the previous standard and so a new one is set. I give that argument quite a lot of respect, the problems always come in when someone proposes what they’re going to do about it. The best answer is ,,, think out of the box,, do the moneyball approach (which don’t work anymore cos everyone’s emulated it) but do the new moneyball approach which is exactly what people are searching all day and all night to find.

  16. The Left hates freedom. The Left hates democracy (even though they use “democracy” as totalist language).

    Blacks are about 14% of the U.S. population. There are 50 states. There are not 7 black governors. None I can find in a 5 minute search.

    Each state selects their own governor. For their reasons. That is democracy.

    Each NFL team selects their own coaches. For their reasons.

    The U.S. Federal government/NFL may decide their aren’t enough black governors/coaches. They cannot force their states/teams to choose one. So they play all sorts of GAMES to placate the Left.

    It just looks stupid. The Rooney rule is stupid.

  17. In UK footie the coaches and managers tend to be former players, so the coach “community” reflects the player “community” of say 20 years ago, you can’t expect it to reflect *today*’s community. More vsible with commentators, John Barnes was a footie player 20 years ago, so *today*’s commentator crowd are representative of footie 20 years ago.

    But Estaban makes the point that in USAian sports the players tend not to be coach material, so you can’t expect the coach community to reflect *any* era of players.

  18. 3/32 * 100 = 9.4%
    4/32 * 100= 12.5
    Proportion of Blacks in the US population 12.5%
    Hence management is pretty close to representative already.
    However the blacks are clearly shutting Hispanics and Whites out of playing positions! It’s racism, obviously.

  19. There probably is more scope for racism or other biases (possibly unconscious, possibly systematic) to influence manager selection than player selection because assessment of managerial quality is a much harder task – lots more statistical “noise” – than measuring player quality. How well a manager’s past performance looks depends on many elements outside their control that are very hard to control for. You can even see that difficulty in the structure of the Rooney rule itself – since interviews are part of the selection process we know recruitment must have a substantially subjective element, and we know in other areas that interviews are notoriously poor (and often biased) tools for selecting the best candidate.

    In terms of “manager material” a big issue is how many people, from whatever background, are going through the pipeline in which new managers are produced (or at least, trained and develop experience). In principle you don’t need to have been a professional player, and certainly not a top-level pro, to succeed in management. On which basis the moderately disproportionately low fraction of racial minority coaches in the NFL pales in significance before the Really Big Question of inadequate representativeness – why aren’t half the coaching staff women?! And why isn’t more fuss being made of this?

  20. A further complication is that in an unconscious echoing of the reviled policies of apartheid and miscegenation it is now the norm for individuals of mixed race to be unquestionably categorised as black (for example having a white mother did not stop Obama being the first black president).

    As the proportion of blackish rather than black individuals increases within the overall population it will become increasingly difficult to maintain the narrative of under-representation without some tricky redefinitions.

  21. Dennis, Who Lettered In Sumo Wrestling

    The article acknowledges and then quickly passes over the reason for there only being three black coaches in the NFL in 2020… Four got fired in 2019. Another was fired in 2018. NFL head coaches come from two sources and two sources only: The pool of NFL assistant coaches and colleges coaches (and even then, usually only the coaches from top tier schools). Where blacks are underrepresented is at the (top tier) college – not pro – level.

  22. ‘Lately it feels like we’re moving backwards.’

    ‘We,’ white man?

    The root of the third party race baiting is that they believe the races are indeed inferior. They can’t succeed without external help. The gist of Graham’s article is that blacks are inferior.

  23. NFL would be the sport where the coach is most important (followed perhaps by rugby). You need a technician with a vision. All the parts need to fit together, and just recruitiing star players won’t do that.

    NBA and EPL are about gelling a team, but after that it’s mostly the players who win games. So quite stupid people have had winning g seasons.

    NFL would be the most meritocratic post of all, because poor coaches are ruthlessly exposed. And black kids who play NFL are already loaded, so mostly don’t want to grow through the grind of learning that level of detail.

    It’s why College Football coaches are so well paid — who it is really matters.

  24. Plenty of research that shows star players don’t make the best coaches, it’s the borderline players that had to grind and hone their technical skills that are better suited to coach. In part it seems that the ‘X’ factor for sporting superstars is intuitive

  25. Good point. Gary Linaker was a good footballer, but he admits he was never all that interested in it as a player and his passion was media, and he put a lot of effort into training for that as his “real” career.

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