Does Gender Matter When Coaching in the NFL?
It is believed that Dr. Jen Welter is the first female who will coach in the National Football League (NFL). She was hired by the Arizona Cardinals for an assistant coaching intern for training camp and the preseason to work with the inside linebackers.
Dr. Welter has a background in playing Rugby at Boston College and professional football in women’s leagues for 14 years. She became the first woman to play a non-kicking position in a men’s professional football league in 2014 when she suited up as a running back and special team’s player for the Texas Revolution. She has coached for the Dallas Diamonds of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) and helped them win four titles. More recently she has coached with the Texas Revolution of the Champions Indoor Football league. She coached the linebackers and special teams as part of their coaching staff.
“Coaching is nothing more than teaching. One thing I have learned from players is ‘How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don’t care if you’re the Green Hornet, I’ll listen.'” “I really believe she’ll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her,” Arians said. (Weinfuss, 2015)
The question is will the players she will be coaching in the NFL respect her as they would a male coach with similar credentials? On paper she may have very good credentials, but will the players think in their minds that she can teach them anything to make them better at their craft? Women are beginning to get chances to coach in men’s professional sports. The National Basketball Association (NBA) and now the NFL have females coaching in their organizations. Will the next step be there is a female coaching or managing in Major League Baseball (MLB)?
Dr. Jen Welter is getting the chance of a lifetime and will be closely watched during this internship for the preseason. If she can show that she is worthy of an opportunity to be full time during this period she may find herself setting an example for many young aspiring women in the world. Only time will tell if this will turn into a trend for the future with NFL teams. Coaches in the profession would have to believe there are many young male coaches who see this as a challenge. In a few short weeks the world will see if this hire was worthwhile and will set a precedent for women to continue their push to coach male’s at the professional level.
Weinfuss, J. (July 28, 2015). Josh Weinfuss: Jen Welter hired by Cardinals; Believed to be the first female coach in NFL, Retrieved from: http://www.espn.g.com/nfl/story/id/13328608/jen-welter-hired-arizona-cardinals-assistant-coach
Dr. Bret Simmermacher is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the Academy and can be reached at email@example.com.