Mike Francesa with an unfathomable display of sexism. Women shouldn’t be anywhere near men’s sports!
(Except for cheerleaders, presumably.) pic.twitter.com/2n2plZMLIF
— Funhouse (@SportsFunhouse) March 2, 2017
Mike Francesa had a caller. He cited the example of Becky Hammon being an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs. He asked whether Francesa thought there would be a woman coaching a men’s professional team in his lifetime. Francesa argued we would not.
Francesa does have a point. There is an ingrained societal bias against women coaching men’s teams. In many sports, there are clear barriers toward a woman coaching. There is no women’s football or professional baseball. It’s much easier to get into coaching those sports with some sort of playing background. Even if that was Bill Belichick’s storied career at Wesleyan College while he was keeping in shape for lacrosse season.
Basketball would probably be the best bet. It’s a sport where someone such as Hammon could have a lengthy professional playing career and opt to pursue men’s coaching. Even then, there aren’t that many opportunities that come available.
That said, Francesa leaped beyond that point with the comment transcribed below. He ridiculed the idea of a woman managing men as impossible.
“Do you know how difficult it would be on a female to manage 25 men? Or 50 men? Do you know how impossible that would be?…It wouldn’t be tough. It would be impossible. You’re going to tell me that you would think a woman could walk into an NFL team and coach as a head coach 15 assistants and 50-60 men?”
Francesa also said women have “no shot,” described the prospect as “unrealistic,” and assessed the chances of it happening as “a million to one.” He also said Pat Summitt would not have tried to coach a men’s team because it was “not her place.”
Here’s a story about the time Pat Summitt took over a Tennessee men’s practice.
“We was goofing around and Pat was watching,” Williams wrote. “She got fed up and threw the ball, and everyone stopped. She said, ‘Run sprints, and run them fast.’”
Tennessee’s players then looked at Pearl as if to suggest, “Is she serious?”
“He looked back at us and walked away and sat down, and Pat ran the rest of practice,” Williams said. “I remember I threw up twice that day.”
Women have spent the past century dispelling unfounded prejudice, invading boys clubs, and crashing through glass ceilings in a wide array of professional endeavors. Sports is littered with examples of men and women challenging and changing entrenched conventional wisdom. Those involved in sports were raised in a different generation than those who cover sports. Unlikely and difficult is not impossible.
There are all sorts of horror stories and hypotheticals naysayers could come up with for a woman coaching an NBA team. The same come up about an openly gay player. The same came up before anyone broke any boundary anywhere ever.
It would take the right franchise with the right conviction to hire the right woman to coach an NBA team. It would be risky. Franchises who have taken similar risks for the right reasons in the past have been rewarded.