Gender diversity is making headway in basketball and other national sports

By Chloe Gould, Sports Editor

The Denver Nuggets announced on Nov. 16 that it added a new member to its front office staff, WNBA legend Sue Bird.

Bird will become a Basketball Operation Associate, where her main role will be scouting for the Nuggets. But what makes this hire even more interesting is that the 11-time All Star will continue to play for her own team, reigning WNBA Champion Seattle Storm.  

When news broke of Bird’s hire, Nuggets point guard Isaiah Tomas tweeted his excitement, “Gonna learn from a legend!”

Thomas’ response is one that is welcomed in my eyes, considering that later in that same week, it was reported that in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns wanted to interview former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for its head coaching position, a story that instantly picked up media attention and was greeted with laughter and jokes.

Because of her lack of experience, it’s obvious that Rice would be incompetent for a coaching position, however I don’t believe that any major sports league would consider a woman for a head coaching position, even if they were fully qualified.

As a woman who is immersed in all professional sports — both men and women’s leagues, I feel that it is time to see more than just the small handful of women we see in coaching and executive roles in men’s sports.

A recent article by SBNation showed that in the nearly 2,600 coaches in professional sports in this country, there has only been 10 total female coaches in the combined 445 years that the leagues have been in existence.

Of those 10 female coaches, six of them are current coaches. All but one of these women were hired in 2009 or later. Five of these women come from the NBA.

I feel that out of the four major professional sports in the United States, the NBA has proven to be the most gender diverse, which has been headlined by former WNBA point guard, Becky Hammon.  

Hammon is currently an assistant coach under NBA coaching legend, Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs.

When she was hired in 2014, Hammon became the first woman to be a full-time assistant coach in not just baskeball, but all four of the major sports in the United States. Hammon led the San Antonio Spurs to a Las Vegas summer league championship in 2015 as the acting head coach, becoming the first ever woman to be a head coach in the league.

Just this season, she had been promoted by the Spurs as one of the main assistant coaches, sitting alongside Popovich. Climbing the ranks in one of the NBA’s most storied franchises gives me hope that one day hopefully soon, Hammon or even someone else, will be considered and later hired to become the head coach of a team.

As one sport continues to become more and more inclusive, baseball seems to struggle to conform to the times. According to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, when it came to gender diversity, MLB was graded with a C for this year.

With 30 teams making up MLB, 51 women have been hired in the past two years. A report by ESPN stated that a dozen women are part of teams training staff, and 10 women have been hired to work in the ever-developing analytics department.

Personally, I found that number staggering but also very believable. As someone who follows baseball intently I know how male dominated the sport is. There has only been one significant woman in position to even be a general manager in baseball.  

It proved to me that it doesn’t — and shouldn’t  — matter what the gender of the person considered for the job is, but if they fit the qualifications and are the best fit to lead their franchise to a championship, they should be the one hired.

The excitement surrounding the Denver Nuggets and Bird shows that women in sports can be celebrated, and continues to pave the way for so many women including myself.

Major League Baseball needs to catch up when it comes to women in executive roles

By Jacob Powers, Staff Writer

Since its creation in 1869, Major League Baseball has been a male-dominated sport.

When Kim Ng interviewed to be the general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005, 13 years of MLB front office experience still wasn’t enough to land the position.  

When Ng interviewed this offseason for the same position, but with the San Francisco Giants, her experience again wasn’t enough to land the position.

The question that’s often posed is this: how can women give insight to a sport that they’ve never played. Do you question the insight because she’s a woman or is there more to the equation?  

In my opinion the answer to this is yes.  Even if women may not have ever played the sport, they can offer a different perspective to the game that men may overlook.  In front office management, it’s all about what your skills are, who you are, and if you’re simply willing and passionate enough to devote the time.

In 2015, Amanda Hopkins was hired by the Seattle Mariners as a scout, making her the first woman working full-time in the MLB in over 50 years.

Coming as no stranger to the game, her father was scout for the Rangers, A’s, Orioles and the Pirates.  When she steps on the field, she does her job as a scout, not as a female scout.

In an industry where relationships are developed over decades, integrating women into the front office can prove a challenge.  Currently 113 women hold positions in baseball operations but none of them are involved at the executive administrative level.

Being a scout in sports requires being able to identify the same suppleness and patience that players on the field regularly exemplify.

Having the ability to scout players and follow their careers over time is something that is not gender specific — it’s about committing countless hours and spreadsheets to project the best possible option.  

In baseball specifically, the rise of sabermetrics that involves quantitative analysis of player performances has become a huge part of the way teams make decisions.  Analytics and player development is an area in professional baseball where women can vastly improve the dynamic and overall well being of the sport.

I  welcome women being able to get in depth on the interworking of the game, it’s a refreshing voice for not only baseball but for sports as a whole.

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