01 June 2006

Are any major sports ready for this?

Let me start this now by saying the question below is NOT about PLAYING sports, but being on the business side of it.

Dante brought it up in the previous (though brief) discussion regarding the NFL commissioner opening. Dante could have been half-serious or half-joking or completely joking. That's not the point. Could a woman like Condi Rice have a snowball's chance in Hades to even be considered for a league commissioner's opening? And while the obvious answer is "NO", this question isn't just in football, but in any major men's sport. Could Pat Summit, for example, be seen as NBA commissioner? Would men's professional sports admit a woman into its administrative roles? And the more politically dangerous question is should they?

I was discussing this issue with my better half, and it came down to this for us: is this the right time? (Which always leads to when is ever the right time for change.) I felt if Rooney, who is a serious mover in the NFL on the issue of "diversity", really wanted to move and shake, he could at least request her to apply. Ms. Better Half said even asking her would almost be an insult since it would be a token gesture with no chance at all. Why have her apply when you know before the ink was dry, she'd be rejected? To me, the symbol at this time would be more important even though the concept in reality is years beyond the present. Now I grant completely that NFL ownership probably doesn't even have women in the NFL on their radar for near future discussions. However, introducing the idea now may make the idea less novel or inciteful later, after more women gain pro sports business credentials.

Women like Pat Summit and Donna Orender (WNBA commish) have great experience which could make them experienced enough to make a possible try at a major position in the NBA. And again, this discussion isn't only about football but any major sport. So it's possible to note that it wasn't until 22 years ago that Marge Schott was the first woman to outright buy into principal ownership of a professional sports team (as opposed to inheriting it or gaining control by court order (see: 49ers)). Maybe getting more female in front offices and as owners (which baseball has been working to do) is a first step.

So the questions are:
1) Is the sports world ready to work women into, if nothing else, key roles in the front offices? Even on the college level, "big time" Div IA schools like Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas have Women's sports Athletic Directors. Only Cal-Berkeley, Arizona State, and Maryland have female ADs over men and women's sports. (There are 2 other ADs in smaller DI institutions). If on the college level, women aren't well represented in the big time AD function, commissioner in pro sports league?? Eh...

(Question 1-B) If UGA selected a female for AD (let's say Yoculan), how do you think alumni would react?)

2) Would fans leave if something like this happened, especially in a sport like football?

3) What would be a proper first step to a woman becoming a commissioner in any male pro sports league? Ownership? GM? Scouts? Where should leagues start when trying to incorporate women into the men's sports business?

And finally
4)Do you think on the business side that women should stay in women's league or does it really matter?


Discuss. And remember, this isn't about women playing in men's sports, just about them in positions on the business side.

3 Comments:

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Dante said...

"Let me start this now by saying the question below is NOT about PLAYING sports, but being on the business side of it."

I don't think you can separate the two. Until there are actually women playing in the sport, there is going to be a lot of resistance to women running the sport. A WNBA player becoming NBA commish or even Yoculan taking the reins as UGA's AD makes a lot more sense than Ms. Rice taking the NFL commissioner spot (or even Mike Powell taking that same position).

1a. Yes.

1b. I think in that specific situation, the alumni be ok with it.

2. No. Much like the BCS, they'd cry complain, and watch anyways.

3. Start by incorporating them as players. That's the key to acceptance.

4. I don't think it matters at all.

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Laddi said...

"I don't think you can separate the two. Until there are actually women playing in the sport, there is going to be a lot of resistance to women running the sport."

Sure you can separate the two if the theory is correct that sports business itself doesn't necessarily require sports knowledge. Though i don't agree, some sports pundits and even former players believe that to be the case. Owners don't have to be former players, just people who have connections, money, and know how to market sports. So why would women have to take the longer, harder role in order to be in positions of power (per se).

But that's an interesting point about being players before being in front office. One I think a lot of people believe would need to happen first.

Hopefully others will chime in with their opinions.

 
At 3:48 PM, Blogger Dante said...

"Sure you can separate the two if the theory is correct that sports business itself doesn't necessarily require sports knowledge."

Now don't confuse ability with acceptance. Sports business has absolutely no need of someone familiar with the sport. Marketing is marketing. A good businessperson will know who to listen to regarding markeing their product and handling sports-related issues. A woman is easily as capable as a man in those respects.

However, fan acceptance leaves something to be desired any time a non-player runs any kind of high profile football operations. But like I said earlier, it'll be all whine and little action.

 

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