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Author Topic: Are black head coaches underrepresented in the NFL?
Member # 3162

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I see many articles and such that assert this as a truism, but I'm not convinced. They always point to the large fraction of NFL players that is black, and wonder why the number of black nfl coaches is not comparable, but I wonder if that's really a meaningful comparison. Being a player certainly doesn't mean one is suited to be a coach; the two jobs require rather different skills.

(Also, I think that's a dangerous road to go down, given that "discrimination" among players is accepted and justified, on the basis that black players are typically considered better athletes. If you accept that one race is inherently athletically more gifted, aren't you halfway toward granting the possibility that one race can be inherently more intellectually gifted?)

In any case, rather than looking at what percentage of players is black, I look at the US population. Twelve to fifteen percent of the US population is black (depending on where you google). In the NFL, 6 of 32 head coaches (or 18.75%) are black. There were also 183 African-American assistant coaches in the NFL; I don't know what the total number of assistant coaches is, to make a good comparison, but if you guess the number at 20 per team--an absurdly high guess; the Dolphins have 24 assistants and are widely mocked for their bizarrely large coaching staff--that would make over twenty-five percent of assistant coaches black. Are African-Americans really underrepresented, then?

(Now, twenty years ago, there were no African-American head coaches.)

In any case, if we need to focus on a disparity somewhere, wouldn't it be more worthwhile to look at NCAA football? Out of 119 Division 1A college football programs, only four have black head coaches. There have been less than twenty in the history of Division 1A college football. There are four African-American managers in Major League Baseball, out of thirty teams (if you count the Marlins). But then, if we're going to talk baseball, maybe we should look at the fact that there are only three latino managers.

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Tante Shvester
Member # 8202

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You know what group is seriously underrepresented in the NFL, NBA, MLB, etc? Women.

Just saying.

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Member # 6023

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I remember reading in "Sport" magazine (now defunct) an article saying that Tony Dungy (then a Steelers assistant coach) would be the first NFL head coach. This was about 1981, might even have been 1980, YEARS before Art Shell became the first, and WAAAY before Dungy actually made it. So why did it take so long?
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Member # 2883

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I'm not sure where I stand on this, as far as the NFL goes. I think the numbers are moving in the right direction as you pointed out...people want to give the credit to the Rooney rule which seems silly. Teams have shown that they are willing to find ways around it or ignore it, so I don't think that's really what caused the current African-American coaches to be hired.

I agree that other leagues have more to look at than the NFL.

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