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Should Women Be NFL Coaches? Feminists Have an Interesting Answer

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported yesterday that the Cleveland Browns football team was considering former secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a potential candidate for head coach. Browns general manager John Dorsey has apparently stated that he is “open to hiring a woman as Cleveland's next head coach” and an unnamed source said that Rice was in the running. Dorsey has since denied that Rice was being considered: “[W]e are still in the process of composing the list of candidates and Secretary Rice has not been discussed.” Rice also weighed in, tweeting, “I love my Browns — and I know they will hire an experienced coach to take us to the next level,” concluding, “I’m not ready to coach but I would like to call a play or two next season if the Browns need ideas!”

But, even if the Rice rumor has proven false, the whole story has kicked up an interesting question: should women be coaches in the NFL? And, if so, which women?

Funnily enough, no one seems to disagree that women are capable of coaching professional sports. For all the feminist weeping and wailing about the exclusion of women, when it comes to something like this where there’s no real reason why women shouldn’t be included, commentators on both sides of the political spectrum are on board. There is nothing about the brains of women that makes them less capable than men at understanding football. I mean, they shouldn’t play football against men — this isn’t The Hunger Games, everyone is meant to survive to the end of the game — but they can coach it. What is interesting, though, is the differing reactions to the news that Condoleezza Rice, in particular, might be the woman in the running for the job.

In general, feminists tend to support the inclusion of women in male-dominated fields regardless of their qualifications. One would think that Rice — who is both female and a minority — becoming an NFL head coach would be a feminist coup. But one would be wrong. Because, even though Rice is technically a woman, she doesn’t actually count, for one very simple reason: she’s a Republican.

Because of Rice’s politics — she served as secretary of state to George W. Bush — feminists were quick to denounce her on political grounds. Actor and TV writer Angela Belcamino tweeted, “I don’t want to live in a world where Condoleezza Rice is head coach of the Cleveland Browns and Donald Trump is President.” Making reference to her time as secretary of state, CNN political contributor Paul Begala said, “Great. She will invade Cincinnati under false pretenses.” Writer and LGBTQ activist Charlotte Clymer tweeted, “The Browns are a terrible team. What's the worst that could happen by hiring Condoleezza Rice as head coach? It's not like they're going to illegally invade another country under false pretenses and contribute to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.”

But Rice’s politics didn’t need to come into it at all. There’s a perfectly legitimate reason why she shouldn’t be the Browns’ next head coach: she’s not qualified for the job. Plenty of commentators were quick to point this out and to add — very reasonably — that hiring an unqualified candidate because she’s a woman would harm the prospects of qualified women hoping for the job.

Fox News contributor Britt McHenry tweeted, “Big fan of Condoleezza Rice. Always advocated for her to be an exec in the NFL New York offices or even considered as the first female as Commissioner. But head coach?! No. Browns need to focus less on PR stunts like this or hiring MLB stats guys & more on the product.” NFL reporter Lindsay Jones said, “There is real, meaningful work being done to get women into the NFL coaching and front office pipeline. That Condoleeza Rice's name has even been floated as a potential HC candidate in Cleveland is a disservice to the women working their way up.” In other words, women should absolutely be given a chance to compete for these jobs, but the jobs shouldn’t be given to women unqualified to do them simply because of their sex. Seems reasonable to me.

Feminists could have made this argument too — rather than attacking Rice’s politics, which have nothing to do with her ability to coach football. But, if they did, they would have to admit one of two things. Either that hiring someone based solely on their sex is not a good idea. Or that Republican women are women too. And they’re not willing to do either.

The NFL’s openness to hiring women as head coaches is a good thing, provided the women in question are the best candidates for the job. Which, for sane people, means they know a lot about football. For feminists, it means they’re democrats. Good luck, NFL!