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Opinion: Silver's Words a Disservice to Female Coaches

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)

 

Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner and self-appointed social engineer, has now turned his attention from North Carolina's bathrooms to female coaches in the NBA.

Responding recently to a statement made by a radio host that there would never be a female head coach in the NBA, Silver told ESPN:

"There definitely will (be a female head coach). And I think it is on me to sort of ensure that it happens sooner rather than later ... I do think there are things that the league can and should be doing to accelerate the move toward a woman being a head coach in the league."

Silver certainly is not wrong to think or even hope there will be a female coach in a men's professional basketball league. But he is wrong to imply that he will lean on teams to make it happen.

Although he thinks he is doing women a favor, he actually does a disservice to aspiring female coaches to "sort of ensure" that they will be a head coach. If and when a woman becomes a head coach, she might well have earned it, but we'll never know because many will think she was given the job simply so the commissioner could check off a box on his PC checklist. It will cause people to think she got the job because she is a woman, not because she deserved it. What else are people to think when the commissioner says things such as this:

"... There is absolutely no reason why a woman will not ascend to be a head coach in this league. We are very focused in on it."

This is what happens when you "focus in" on such matters: After Hollywood bashed itself a year ago over the dearth of black Oscar nominees in 2016, the academy couldn't hand Oscars out fast enough to black actors this year - they set a record for black award winners. It was pretty transparent. It also was a disservice to black filmmakers. They might well have been deserving of the awards, but the perception is that they were given the awards because of the color of their skin, not because of their performances. It casts doubt on their accomplishments, which isn't fair to anybody.

Back to the NBA: There are already two female assistant coaches in the NBA - Becky Hammon of the Spurs and Nancy Lieberman of the Kings. Natalie Nakase is an assistant video coordinator for the Clippers. They didn't get there because Silver leaned on those teams; they got there because of merit, because, through the natural progression of paying their dues and making contacts and proving themselves, they were hired. Hammon is apparently so encouraged by her future prospects that she turned down an offer to be the head coach of the University of Florida's women's team to continue her quest to become the first female NBA head coach.

So why does the commissioner feel it necessary to pressure teams to hire a female head coach? Why does he think it necessary to say "there are things that the league can and should be doing to accelerate" it?

And what does that mean? Some backroom maneuvering? Threats?

There's another problem with Silver's agenda. He wants more black coaches in the NBA, as well. There are many black assistant coaches who have been sitting on NBA benches, clipboard in hand, waiting for a chance to be a head coach. If Silver pushes for a female coach, does that mean she moves to the front of the line thus denying one of the black coaches an opportunity?

In other words, Silver now has a competing agenda.

According to NBA writer Howard Beck, from 2001-2014 the NBA averaged 11 black head coaches per season. On opening night in 2012, there was a record 14 black coaches. This year there are eight. And now Silver is pushing for a woman head coach? Maybe Silver will add new teams to the league simply to create more opportunities for head coaches who are black or women or both.

By the way, Silver, whose league is going to increase its pool of referees by 25 percent the next three years, also stated, "We will be looking very hard at dramatically increasing the representation of women in our officiating ranks."

Silver has so many boxes to check off, it must be difficult to keep track of them all.

Email: drob@deseretnews.com

Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner and self-appointed social engineer, has now turned his attention from North Carolina's bathrooms to female coaches in the NBA. Responding recently to a statement made by a radio host that there would never be a female head coach in the NBA, Silver told ESPN: "There definitely will (be a female head coach).
 
April 5, 2017
 
 
 

 

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