Monday, March 28, 2011

Question-Posing

From England, about black soccer coaches:
In 2007, about a quarter of all players were black, but only two out of 92 league clubs had black managers. Today, there are still only two black managers in all four [professional divisions]: Paul Ince, manager of Notts County, and Chris Powell, of Charlton Athletic. Football management is still overwhelmingly white. ….

They call for a program similar to the Rooney Rule in the NFL. This got me to thinking: what is the state of the black coach, anyway? By my count, the NFL has 7 black head coaches out of 32 jobs, which is better than it once was but doesn’t quite seem equitable. To my knowledge the NBA does not have as explicit an affirmative-action program, and yet it has 11 black head coaches out of 30 teams. The pros do better than the amateur ranks; NCAA basketball has 14 black head coaches out of 73 jobs in BCS conferences. There are only 18 black head coaches of the hundred or so jobs in D-I A football, and very few in power conferences—off of the top of my head, only Stanford’s David Shaw and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.

Considering the variations between sports and leagues (and countries), it seems pretty safe to say that there’s something at play that individual programs can only curb slightly. Still, there are a few interesting questions: first, in this country—why are the pros better on diversity than colleges? One possible guess is that it’s much easier for a college coach to set himself up in baronial style and rule his fiefdom until years turn to decades. These barons are almost always white. But these coaches are so rare that it shouldn’t have that great an effect, particularly when turnover among head coaches in college is increasing lately. I really don’t have any good theories about that question aside from that. My other thought is: is the Rooney Rule really what caused increased hiring in the NFL, or was it partially the embarrassment that accompanied it? Not sure, again. Here’s another one: why is the NBA the best, percentage-wise, of all of these sports? Again, hard to come up with a good answer… Another question: why the difference between countries? I have a pretty good guess here, actually: the report contrasts the players in 2007 to the coaches of 2007, which is not quite the best comparisons. The coaches of 2007 are presumably at least middle-aged and in some cases are quite old, and seeing as there were fewer black players in England in their pasts, it's not exactly inconceivable that fewer of those black players would filter up. This kind of answers why the U.S. would do better than Britain, as its athletes have been more diverse for a while now, but doesn't explain the variation within the U.S. at all. So, yeah, no good explanations.

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