Statistics are funny things. They can provide the support for a number of arguments as people see numbers and draw their own conclusions. There were eight head coach vacancies in the NFL this past month, and all eight were filled by white men. This has caused a number of strong soapbox reactions across the football world, such as seen on ESPN’s First Take:
I’m not going to go into the specifics of why certain coaches were hired and others weren’t, though I know the way football is becoming more high scoring, teams were desperate for innovative, offensive coaches no matter what skin color. I wanted to use this story to highlight a disturbing trend. The civil rights movement aimed to make doors open, with no discrimination based in skin color or anything else. The idea of racial quotas is an anti-civil rights idea with a good heart. These things and pursuits aim to right the wrongs of the past based on numbers. So, if any grouping is not diverse, such proponents are quick to argue that some personal or systematic racism is behind it all. Yes, there might be cases where such practices might be occurring these should be stopped by any legal means, but we need to stop throwing charges of racism out anytime we don’t approve of the colors of people hired. To flip everything around, you could certainly make the lack of diversity argument in the NBA. Starting NBA lines ups on many teams are 100% Black and the league as a whole is 80% Black. Yet, the large majority of high school basketball players are White. Yet, no one views this as some systematic effort to keep Whites from having high paying NBA jobs. In a completely open, non-racial society, blacks can be hired and can be fired without any special treatment. Whites can also be hired without hesitation. If organizations have to have the internal conversation of ‘I want to hire this guy but he is not the right race to make us diverse’, that is a set back for civil rights, not an achievement.
There might be a number of factors for the lack of new Black NFL coaches this year. Many argue that since the NFL is 70% Black then that should be reflected in the coaching numbers. Being a good player does not equate to being a good coach. At the same time, many of the best coaches were only so-so players. There are only so many candidates each year who are highly desired and it’s mainly due to bringing something exciting to the table or having track record of winning. Black coach Lovie Smith took his team to a 10-6 record this season and has a Super Bowl appearance under his belt, but was not hired. While this is very surprising, Lovie has earned a reputation as a defensive orientated coach and the league is moving in an offensive direction. I think he was more the victim of trends then someone saying ‘I don’t want to hire him because he is Black’. Not every non-hire equals racism.