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Mike Francesa’s coaching opinion is sexist, but problem is he’s not entirely wrong

03.02.17 at 11:04 pm ET
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NewsdayLike many jobs in sports, coaching remains a male-dominated profession, but a few women have found their way into the professional ranks of men’s sports. Former WNBA All-Star Becky Hammon has been an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs since 2014, and Kathryn Smith became the NFL’s first full-time female coach while working with the Bills in 2016.

Still, WFAN’s Mike Francesa thinks it would be “impossible” for a woman to be a head coach for a team of men.
On Wednesday, a caller asked Francesa if the radio host expected to see someone like Hammon take over a team in his lifetime. Francesa dismissed the notion as being outside the realm of possibility, saying Hammon had “no shot” to become a head coach.

“To be the head coach of an NBA team?” Francesa asked. “No shot. The odds on that are a million-to-one, and if it wasn’t the most dominant coach in the league doing that, I don’t think anyone else would hire a woman right now.”

Hammon was hired by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich in 2014 after attending team practices and meetings the previous year. In 2015, she coached the Spurs’ NBA Summer League team, leading it to the Las Vegas Summer League title.

“I think it’s an honorable thing, but the bottom line is what you’re asking her to do is an incredibly difficult thing to do,” Francesa said. “It’s not something that makes sense to even aspire to.”

The caller mentioned his daughter who has an interest in sports, but Francesa was adamant that she would have no avenue to professional coaching.

“Here’s your thing — you have decided that your daughter should be allowed to manage a professional team. Let’s be honest, your daughter, maybe she’ll become a great athlete. Maybe she’ll become a great executive. But the problem is there’s not gonna be an avenue for her to manage a major- league men’s team,” Francesa said. “First of all, do you know how difficult it would be for a female to manage 25 men? Or 50 men? Do you know how impossible that would be?”

The caller answered that it would be tough, to which Francesa responded, “It wouldn’t be tough. It would be impossible. You’re gonna tell me that you would think a woman could walk in to an NFL team and coach as a head coach, 15 assistants and 50 to 60 men?”

When I was 12 I dreamed of being the manager of an MLB team. I decided not to pursue that, but it wasn’t because anyone told me I couldn’t. I agree with the caller that it would be tough. Really tough. However, I disagree with Francesa that it would be impossible. It’s not happening any time soon but it’s not impossible. There is currently a woman MLB coach and there was, until recently, another in the NFL. It’s not unfathomable to say they could be a manager or head coach one day, but the chances are slim. I even doubt it will happen, but I don’t think it’s something women shouldn’t aspire to.

By definition, what Francesa said here is sexist. Saying a woman can’t do something because she’s a woman is sexist. But he’s not completely wrong. And that’s the real problem.

I see where he’s is coming from. It would be extremely difficult for a woman to coach an MLB or NFL or NBA team because where would they come from and how would they get there? As Mike said, there’s no real pathway currently for women to coach on this level. As of right now, it is virtually impossible because there aren’t any women in positions where they can move directly to a head coaching job should one open up. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be impossible in the future. Just not in the near future.

I’m not offended by this at all because this is Mike Francesa saying this. Of course he’s going to say this. There’s never been a woman head coach or manager so he thinks there never can be. He’s a traditionalist who just learned what Uber is yesterday.

And I agree with Francesa that Susyn Waldman couldn’t manage the Yankees. She’s insufferable.

ALSO, Mike: You said someone can’t coach a team on a major league level if he (or she) hasn’t played the game. Not that this story is even necessarily true, but you said in the past you were offered a job in the NFL in the 90’s, possibly to coach, but you never played football. so based on what you said here, you are unqualified to coach an NFL team and I know you don’t believe that.

Though because Francesa had a “baseball career” in high school, he would be qualified to manage an MLB team. It’s a shame his bad knees cut that career short.