By Ken Reed
Yes, Tom Brady is amazing. Ten Super Bowls and seven victories. Crazy stuff.
But society was the biggest winner in Super Bowl LV.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the most progressive professional sports organizations in the country. A lot of credit has to go to head coach Bruce Arians.
In 2015, Arians, then the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, hired Jen Welter to be the first woman to hold an NFL coaching position. At Tampa Bay, he filled the three most important positions on his staff with Black men — offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. In addition, assistant head coach and running game coordinator Harold Goodwin is also Black.
It doesn’t stop there. The Bucs are the only NFL team to have two full-time female assistant coaches — assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar. Moreover, in the football operations front office, Tampa Bay employs two additional women, Jacqueline Davidson as the team’s director of football research, and Carly Helfand as a scouting assistant.
“If you can teach, you can coach. As far as the women, it was time. It was time for that door to be knocked down and allow them because they’ve been putting in time, and they’re very, very qualified. The ones we have are overly qualified.
“As far as race, that was not by design. Those are the best coaches I know. But to hear voices in a staff meeting that aren’t the same, don’t look alike, but they all have input, you get better output.”
Wow, that’s some pretty enlightened thinking for a 68-year-old white man in a historically conservative male-dominated industry.
Last October, Arians won the Champions of Equality Award from the Women’s Sports Foundation for his work fostering inclusion and commitment to growing participation for females in football.
“It’s not done because of an initiative. It’s who BA is and has always been. I think that’s why it works so well here is that he’s gathered individuals that he knows will benefit the organization. He has talent. He has people he can trust around him. And it doesn’t matter what we look like. He’s put together that staff because it’s people that he feels will help the team win.
“Clearly, that combination has worked. … And hopefully it will set an example for the rest of the league to kind of take notice and stop being maybe so narrow in their candidate search.”
Arians recognizes that the talent pool is much larger when it expands beyond white men. Approximately 35% of Americans are white males. Looking for talent among the remaining 65% of the population gives Arians and Tampa Bay an edge.
The NFL is a copycat league. So, here’s hoping Tampa Bay’s dominant Super Bowl win over Kansas City will open the eyes of NFL owners and executives to the benefits of finding the best people for the job — no matter their race or gender.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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