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Women Have no Place in Professional Sports?


Women Have no Place in Professional Sports? Last week Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills hired Kathryn Smith as the special teams quality control coach. Jon Gruden, Eric Mangini, Tony Sporano and Todd Haley all are former NFL head coaches and all started in the very same entry-level position as Smith. This isn’t the first female to hold a coaching position in the NFL but nevertheless, the hiring sparked outrage amongst some sports talk radio shows.

In particular the hiring of Smith drew the ire of Kevin Kiley, host and “voice of reason” for the morning radio show on The Fan in Cleveland. His banter on the hiring of Smith lasted 13 minutes and was filled with degrading and demeaning statements towards women. I hope this tirade was designed to move the ratings needle after another miserable Browns season and not an example of the hostility the host has towards women. The Browns hiring a new head coach, the ongoing drama that is Johnny Manziel and the Cavs being the best team in the Eastern Conference of the NBA were all fertile sports topics for Kiley to discuss on his show. Instead, he chose to be outraged at the Bills hiring a female coach so unfortunately, these are most likely his true feelings.

To impose your physical will on people according to the argument set forth by Kiley is essential to being qualified to coach in the NFL. Kiley believes that football is about physical advantage, making those who can’t impose their physical will on people, in this case women, at a loss to the reference points of the game. You might wonder what qualifies Kiley to make such statements. He played in “obscurity” at Wyoming, made it to the final cut for the New York Jets in 1974 and played one year for the Chicago Fire of the World Football League. Clearly from his significant playing experience he understands the game of professional football at a very high level. Without question he has a football acumen that would be impossible for a woman to attain because she has never played the game.

This article wasn’t intended to give even more publicity to Kevin Kiley or anyone in sports talk radio who questions the ability of a woman to be a professional football coach. It was intended to highlight women within the world of sports. As fans, media and coaches women make a significant contribution to our enjoyment of sports. In 2013, I went to every NFL stadium in 16 weeks using my 1967 VW Bus to film the documentary 25,000 Miles to Glory. I wanted to experience what it was like to be a fan of each team in the NFL. During our trip we interviewed over a hundred fans and the most surprising thing about the interviews was how passionate and knowledgeable women are about the game of football. We interviewed Karen Ford in Cleveland who spoke eloquently about the history of the Browns and how much she loved “the sound of football.” In Baltimore there was “Purple Dame,” in Dallas there was Shelby Kelly and in Tampa there was Cheryl Stewart who said, “who flies the colors when you go 0-26? We do!” Her point was that she’d been a fan since the franchise began their history with 26 consecutive losses. I would be confident in any of these women hosting their own sports talk radio show.[…]

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