NFL to Hire More Diverse Coaches

Posted by on Apr 7, 2022 in United States

Lately, more and more attention has been paid to achieving equity in women’s and men’s sports. In February 2022, the U.S. national women’s soccer team settled their equal pay lawsuit and received $22 million in back pay. In March 2022, the antiperspirant company Degree launched a nationwide promotion to encourage awareness of the NCAA Women’s tournament. Now, the National Football League is also taking strides toward making its program more equitable: by requiring teams to hire more women and ethnic or racial minority coaches. Here, btw takes a closer look at this change, and what it could mean for the future of the NFL. 

The Problem (By the Numbers) 

Nonwhite people and women are significantly underrepresented in NFL coaching positions. 2021 data shows that about 71 percent of NFL players are nonwhite. In 2021, only 39 percent of coaches were people of color. Also, there were only 15 minority defensive coordinator coaches in 2021. And there were only six general managers of color in the NFL.   

Women are also underrepresented in coaching. Only 12 women held coaching positions in the NFL in 2021. However, they hold 25 percent of NFL office jobs. (Nonwhite people hold 20 percent of these jobs.) 

How Did This Happen? 

In some ways, the lack of diversity in high-level NFL coaching positions is a chicken-and-the-egg problem: head coaching jobs generally go to people who have had high-level coaching jobs in the past–meaning that the hiring pool is predominantly white (and male) to begin with. Nepotism (favoring one’s family or friends) also plays a role: more than one-third of head coaching jobs right now have gone to men who were related in some way to former coaches. People of color are rarely from “coaching families,” putting them at a further disadvantage. 

Closing the Gap 

The NFL announced its new diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at its annual owners meeting. All thirty-two teams will be required to hire an offensive assistant who is a woman or a member of a racial or ethnic minority group. The NFL will reimburse each team $200,000 in 2022 and $205,000 in 2023 to pay for the new positions. In order to apply, potential coaches must have at least three years of collegiate or professional football coaching experience. The goal is to identify and promote female and nonwhite candidates early in their careers, which as time goes on should impact the overall diversity of the coaching pool. 

In addition to the new hiring initiative, the NFL diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plans include other measures such as recruiting more diverse candidates for jobs; hiring DEI coordinators; and performing a pay equity analysis.  

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