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Friday, September 18, 2009
More Cowbell . . . .

A few summer observations and other commentary:

First, over the summer, I was fortunate to visit for several weeks in Los Angeles and San Diego where I spent my formidable years growing up. I was struck repeatedly by something I had never noticed before. I spent nearly every day of my time in California at the beaches of my youth in San Diego and L.A., primarily Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Moonlight Beach (Cardiff-by-the-Sea), Carlsbad, Redondo Beach, Huntington Beach and Manhattan Beach, and I was shocked at the number of female surfers that now populate the beaches and ocean breaks. Growing up surfing (in the 1980s and 1990s) it was often an anomaly to find a female surfer amongst the boys and men. I remember thinking as a kid that it was bold and brave of the few females that I saw out surfing with us to join in the fray that often exists when grappling for waves. This summer, in 2009, it appeared to me that between 1/3rd and 1/2 of all surfers catching waves and hanging on the beaches were women and girls. I find this remarkable.

This got me to wondering, whether Title IX and the insurgence of female athletic opportunities in the past three decades or so has made it possible/acceptable/cool for young females to take up surfing and to join the boys and men that have dominated the sport (and the sets) for so long. A tremendous step forward I think, and one of the positive influences of Title IX and female athletic acceptability and opportunity. I was also reminded with the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy recently, that he was a staunch advocate of Title IX and the incredible opportunities that this legislation has provided to female athletes across the United States.

Second, while anticipating (and later relishing) the Ohio State vs. USC college football game last week, I watched several Big 10 commercials touting the league and the football programs within. I was struck by the commercial that highlights all eleven of the head football coaches in the Big 10 faux recruiting (see commercial here). I was reminded while watching the commercial, just how disheartening it is that not a single football coach in the Big 10 is a head coach of color. All of the coaches are white. While the Big 10 is purportedly one of the power conferences in the BCS line-up, and while at least 50% of the athletes in that conference are African American, there is not one African American head coach to speak of in the Big 10. As i have written many times in this blog space, it is simply inexcusable for University administrations and athletic directors to continue to recruit African American players in droves to their programs, to reap the significant financial reward on the backs of these players and to continue to refuse to hire African American head coaches to lead these athletes. I found this commercial to be emblematic of the continuing race discrimination in collegiate football coaching.

Third, as highlighted briefly by Professor McCann here, the National Football League, in addressing former race discrimination in its league, pursued an aggressive policy of equality by extending its successful Rooney Rule to all upper level management hires in the NFL. As discussed often on this blog, the Rooney Rule, which requires all NFL owners to meaningfully interview at least one minority candidate for each head football coach opening, has made a significant difference in the league and has provided a welcomed equal opportunity policy for coaches of color that had previously been shut out of head coaching interviews and opportunities. During the summer, Commissioner Roger Goodell extended the Rooney Rule to all front office hiring decisions, requiring NFL owners to meaningfully interview at least one minority candidate for front office hires (General Manager, etc.) going forward. While lightly noticed during a summer of discontent and discord in the NFL (i.e., Vick, labor issues, Stallworth, etc.), this move will ensure a more level playing field for a professional sports league that continues to lead out on this front.

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While Title IX may have extended opportunities for women and is very likely responsible for the marked increase in women that surf (don't California high schools have surf clubs and surf teams?), the legislation continues to be problematic at the Collegiate level with men's sports teams and the penchant for many Athletic Directors to cut men's opportunities to balance the female opportunities under the law.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 9/18/2009 2:56 PM  

This is unrelated, but I just read a pretty interesting article regarding head injuries to NFL players. It specifically discusses Kyle Turley's situation, then expands into what the NFL should do about players understanding the risks about playing a contact sport.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 9/18/2009 3:36 PM  

I believe that the NCAA must follow the lead of the NFL. The previous "laissez faire" attitude of NCAA President Myles Brand (Rest in Peace) allowing its member institutions to hide behind undefined hiring policy's is simply continued racism. But those institutions, just like professional leagues and college conferences, will not change until it is mandated or a financial gain is apparent. It is a stretch, but as the world class black athlete becomes more aware of the discrepancies, maybe they will begin to chose the programs that promote successful black coaches such as Randy Shannon at Miami and/or Turner Gill at Buffalo. Ultimately, the infusion of black administrators and college presidents may be the diversity needed to lead the way to leveling the playing field. Go NFL . . .

Blogger Rob -- 9/19/2009 2:04 AM  

The Rooney rule should apply to assistant coaches and coordinators as that is where head coaches come from.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 9/21/2009 1:45 PM  

Rob, is it also "racism" that there are many D-1 schools' basketball and football teams that are at least 65-70+% African-American....yet that team likely represents a school that may be 65-70+% white?
Until the "racism" of teams not being representative of the school (at least in racial terms) is ended, those who complain about "not enough" minority coaches--whatever that ratio/number/percentage "enough" is--do not have any right to complain or a leg to stand on!

Anonymous Anonymous -- 9/22/2009 2:15 AM  


No I don't believe that it is racist that schools which are majority white schools have majority black athletes . . . that is called wanting to win! Since the Black athlete has been allowed to participate in sports at majority white schools it has benefited the schools immensely both athletically and financially.

What is racist is when those majority white schools recruit these athletes, fail to provide them with the education they promised, and continue to overlook qualified Black assistant coaches and Black coordinators for high profile head coaching and sports administration jobs such as athletic director.

The racism comes into play when these schools use good ole boy practices such as nepotism to continue to hire their white friends and counterparts while locking out qualified Black coaches with more competitive experience, more coaching experience, and a better winning percentage.

I will pose the same question to you that I have to others on this and other blogs.

If it is not racism that is keeping qualified Black coaches locked out of the power positions in college sports . . . then what is?

Blogger Rob -- 9/22/2009 7:47 AM  

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Blogger poll -- 9/26/2009 7:00 AM  

The Big 10 does have one of the few hispanic coaches to be fair, so it isn't completely non-diverse.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 9/27/2009 2:15 PM  

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