Over 350 colleges across the United States offer an accredited sports management program, and you had best believe that a significant portion of those students are female. These young women are just as committed to sports administration as their male counterparts, and they are just as qualified for careers in sports.
There are many areas within the sports industry to focus one’s efforts and talents. From promotions to recreation to coaching, every college student has a dream. If you polled students, many would say they want to become the General Manager of a professional team someday. I don’t think they always know what all that entails exactly, but they had better work hard, or the dream will quickly evaporate. The competition is fierce, so they must pursue the goal of General Manager with vigor, and this is especially true for women!
It seems that the prejudices and stereotypes of females working in sports diminish more with every year that passes. Females are now openly accepted working in every facet of a professional sports team’s Front Office except Coaching, Scouting, and Player Personnel. Women are viewed as less knowledgeable in these areas for some reason. But just because she didn’t play the game, does that mean she is not qualified? Who is to stop a female from being intricately involved in the operations of her high school football team, serving as a Football Operations assistant and Football Manager in college, earning multiple sports internships in Front Offices, and volunteering her free time with other local sports teams? These opportunities would set up any college student nicely for a job in Coaching, Scouting, or Player Personnel, whether male or female!
Creating opportunities to learn and applying practical experience is the number one component to earning a future position. In sports, the more experience, the better the chances of working in the more exclusive parts of a Front Office. Specifically, coaches have to be good teachers, and they have to be able to relate to the players that are their ‘students.’ Scouts have to understand the game, and they must be able to assess the talents of players individually, especially how a player would fit certain schemes. Front Office executives and Player Personnel staff need to understand the dynamics of building a roster, negotiating, and salary cap management.
If a female has the right experience, she should be an equal candidate. The fact that she isn’t allowed near the locker room shower should not be a factor. Saying that women are more kind-hearted and would be “bigger pushovers” is nothing more than a stereotype. Arguing that she has never played the game at a competitive level is a blatant excuse: I have seen many athletic and tough female hockey, basketball, softball, lacrosse, and soccer players, at both the collegiate and professional levels! Even if they haven’t played at the college level, I have interacted with females at the executive level in the NFL whose skills and demeanors were convincingly impressive. I believe it is time to finally give them their due.
Ready to Lead
There are countless females working as executives in the Front Office of sports teams across the different professional leagues. They have earned their way into these positions, and in many cases they have had to fight harder because they are female. There are a few working on the football side of an NFL franchise, but they don’t always get the recognition they deserve. I recently read a credible blog post suggesting that it appears it is about time for a female to earn a chance at a General Manager’s position. The woman named was Dawn Aponte of the Miami Dolphins, and having worked with Ms. Aponte previously, I would heartily agree with that assessment. She has the mindset and professional approach necessary to run a team. She understands the dynamics of a Front Office. She has the experience. Now all she needs is the chance.
Sadly, it may be a few years before Ms. Aponte or any other woman is given an interview to lead as a General Manager, and it may be a few more years before that woman actually earns a chance at the position. But it should happen, and it could happen soon. All it takes is one:
- One owner smart enough to realize what she offers…
- One Head Coach that realizes she has worked hard her entire career to earn the position, and that her work ethic will only increase now that she has it…
- One fan base that embraces the unique opportunities…
- One football team that sees that she appreciates their work and will treat them with mutual respect.
A woman is just as qualified as a man to be a General Manager in today’s business-oriented professional sports world. This is especially true considering that women have exactly the same background experience opportunities as men. Gender doesn’t matter for this position anymore, and anyone who thinks otherwise is living in the past! IT IS TIME.
My prayers and sympathies go out to all who were impacted by the Boston Marathon tragedy this past week. It is important that we pull together as one big community. Let us hold on tight to this compassion for one another, and embrace it in our daily lives.
I want to take the opportunity to commend three such individuals in the professional football world who recently made that special effort to love others and give back selflessly:
After signing a fresh 4-year contract with the Patriots just one month ago, Amendola has graciously pledged to donate to the Boston Marathon victims. He will give $100 for every pass he catches next season.
As a special personal incentive, he will double the donation to $200 for every dropped pass.
2. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft
To support the Boston Marathon victims, the generous football owner has promised to match all donations made on the Patriots website, up to $100,000.
3. Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck and Chandler Harnish
After Hasselbeck signed with the Colts last month, he was told that his preferred number 8 was already assigned to back-up quarterback Harnish. Typically if a player wants the number of another player, he offers to take him out to dinner or give him a cash stipend. (This dollar amount can sometimes reach 6 figures!) But in the case of Hasselbeck and Harnish, they agreed that Hasselbeck would give Harnish $8,000 for the number ONLY IF Harnish could hit a half-court basketball shot. Harnish made it on the first try, and he donated the full $8,000 to the Dollars for Scholars charity.
I personally extend my gratitude to these generous and thoughtful men! Thank you.