The lack of minority coaches highlights an alarming problem
With college football finally entering its offseason, players and coaches across the country are finding new programs to call home. One contract that caught the attention of many college football fans was the transfer of Deion Sanders from Jackson State University to the University of Colorado.
The legendary NFL Hall of Fame cornerback became the first head coach to transfer from a historically black college or university (HBCU) to a Power 5 school. Sanders’ decision caused some uproar in the college football community, as some felt Sanders abandoned Jackson State and the mission to grow HBCU football programs.
But again, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Sanders is paving the way for black coaches to land high-paying, high-profile jobs that are rarely available to the nation’s thousands of football coaches. Sanders joins a very small list of black head coaches in Division I football, with a total of 15 out of 131 head coaches.
Among the 32 NFL teams, there are currently four black coaches: Todd Bowles, Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin and Mike McDaniel. In 2021, the firing of then-Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores drew attention to the treatment and hiring process of black coaches in the NFL. After being rejected by the league’s other teams, Flores filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL, the New York Giants, the Denver Broncos and the Dolphins. Flores stated that the Giants interviewed him simply to circumvent the Rooney Rule, which requires organizations to interview minority candidates for available head coaching positions, and never genuinely considered him for the job.
The same disparity affects Major League Baseball. There are currently only 2 active black managers: Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dusty Baker of this season’s World Series champions, the Houston Astros. Roberts and Baker are two of only three black managers to ever lead their teams to a World Series victory, with Roberts doing so in 2020 and Cito Gaston first in 1992 and 1993.
Looking abroad, Arsenal legend and French manager Patrick Vieira is the only black manager in the Premier League out of the current 20 managers. To make matters worse, he is one of only two black managers in charge in the top five leagues, which include 98 teams, the other being fellow Frenchman Antoine Kombouaré.
“In general, I think that the doors are not open for us to do what we can do and to enter management. When I talk about management I’m talking about the team, but I’m also talking about the top level,” Vieira told BBC Sport in October.
In the NBA, there has been amazing progress. Familiar names like Doc Rivers and Tyronn Lue have had long coaching careers with the 76ers and Clippers respectively, but now there are plenty of new faces. This season, 15 of the NBA’s 30 teams are led by black coaches, a record for the Association and a sharp increase from the two measly black coaches in the league for the 1991-92 season.
“When my son and my oldest son are about to have their first child, when they turn on the TV and see people who look like them leading an NBA team on the sidelines, it can be inspiring. For me , carrying the torch and passing it on to the next generation is something I think about often, not just for my family, but for others,” Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown told Tim Reynolds . an NBA writer for the Associated Press.
The NBA has been the most diverse of all the major sports in the world, and is currently experiencing its most diverse era. However, one of the problems that black NBA coaches have faced is that while they have eventually been given opportunities to coach teams, they have not necessarily lasted long in their roles and often not they have had second chances, but have returned to being assistants. coaching positions or other roles. According to Reynolds, most black coaches “either lasted no more than three years in their first job or [didn’t get] a second chance to lead a team.”
Many coaches and players have spoken out to address this pattern; The NBA’s Coaching Equality Initiative, which aims to develop diverse talent on the league’s coaching staff, was launched after a meeting between commissioner Adam Silver and the National Basketball Coaches Association .
Clearly, progress is being made, but more effort needs to be made to provide opportunities for minority coaches and make those positions sustainable. Many new black coaches are not only leaders of their respective teams, but also examples for aspiring coaches to take over without fear of discrimination.
Jason Lopez Lopez is a senior who writes about the intersection of sports and sociopolitical issues in his “Line of Scrimmage” column. He is also the Daily Trojan’s sports editor.
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