A vigorous research into the NFL hiring process of head coaches has confirmed the widely known historical discrimination for black coaches compared to the white colleagues. The number one sport in America is deeply embroiled in diversity crisis. The owners of NFL teams are even less diverse, with only one minority owner, Jacksonville Jaguars Shahid Khan. NFL management also acknowledges that the hiring of coaches and managers reflects a complete lack of diversity. This has led to a continuous lack of diversity among the head coaches and the front office executives. It is almost impossible for one to remember the last time they watched a match between two black coaches.
Research also established a certain pattern for the minorities after losing NFL head coaching jobs. Afterward, most of the minorities were barely able to land jobs even as NFL offensive and defensive coordinators and none of them had gone to become a head coach at a major college level. However, after losing jobs as head coaches, more whites easily landed jobs as NFL coordinators and more whites were also re-hired compared to blacks. This problem was identified after African American head coaches and general managers were hardly hired in an external process. This resulted in a requirement for at least one minority be interviewed during each hiring process.
The NFL diversity has been there for the past decades and has portrayed the leagues image in a bad light. Since 1963, 88% of the coaches hired by the National Football League teams were white. Despite, most of the players in the league being black, only 6% of the head coaches were African-American. It can be said that teams love black players to play for them, but lack trust in black coaches managing or coaching the organizations. Lack of diversity in various hiring cycles of NFL has led to public outcry thus prompting the call for investigations. To address this issue, the Rooney rule was adopted to help in widening the diversity and inclusion in the hiring cycles.
The Rooney Rule that was put in place in 2003 was a major step in the right direction as it started to bear fruits with regard to expanding diversity in the hiring activities. This rule required that at least one minority (African American) be given an opportunity to showcase their skills during interviews for every head coach and general manager vacancy. One of the complaints against this rule was that the interviewers could interview several blacks just to fulfill the rule but not give them jobs. This policy was a major implementation designed to facilitating presence of African American head coaches throughout the league. The policy demanded that at least one black candidate be interviewed in person, for each vacancy and the owners of the NFL teams must be involved in the process. The chance to land head coach jobs that was not previously guaranteed for qualified blacks was established.
Consequently, the National Football League currently has more black head coaches than it has had before. However, there have been complaints that the system is inflexible with regard to some issues. However, the NFL board put stringent measures to enforce this rule and ensure that its targets and goals are realized within a short period. For instance, the president of Detroit Lions, Matt Millen, was given a fine of $200,000 after he failed to interview a minority player. The NFL went on to issue a warning that the next person who breached the leagues policy would be fined $500, 000. This was clear proof of zero-tolerance for non-observance of the Rooney Rule policy. Currently, it is arguably true that the league is moving in the right direction as evidenced by the increased number of black head coaches and assistant coaches every year. The NFL policy that seems to be working out should be transferred to the college football level to balance out the number of African-American head coaches.
Discrimination on whatever basis can be hazardous to the development of any company. As for the NFL, African Americans were discriminated based on their race and skin color. Denying them a fair platform to compete for these jobs when they have qualifications is not only unfair but also immoral. Some of the things that could be done differently include changing the composition of the head coaches, assistant coaches and general managers. For instance, adoption of clauses that dictate the minimum number of African American coaches in the league. This strategy is easy to implement because of the large pool of diverse former players. Again, it was evident that most of the NFL teams had a majority of black players and thus ensure equality and fairness when it comes to hiring head coaches. The company also ought to have set mechanisms that enable coaches who lose their jobs as head coaches easily obtain jobs such as the offensive and defensive coordinators and assistant coaches on a fairgrounds without any discrimination whatsoever.
The fight against discrimination has been the agenda of most states and regions for quite a long time. A company like NFL that is open to much diversity as it can be seen with its players ought to have reasonably foreseen this problem and enacted policies to handle it. The fact that the Rooney Rule policy was implemented in 2003 only indicates the lengthy period that qualified blacks were denied the opportunity to coach and hold higher positions in the NFL. For a sport that embraces diversity like football, rules, policies and procedures on the hiring process ought to have been in place to prevent this problem. Other means of avoiding this could have been through conducting case studies and research to establish what fueled this the discrimination in the NFL. Letting this problem reign for a longer time not only punished qualified black coaches but also continuously portrayed a negative image of NFL.
Some of the strategies that could be adopted by NFL to effectively manage the diversity crisis include: Firstly, the NFL management should work towards creating a transparent hiring process that is composed of various stakeholders and case studies that outline the objectivity of the criterion used in the hiring process. The composition of the hiring team is important and it should consist of individuals that fully represent the interests of NFL rather than personal interests. Secondly, the introduction of incentives and penalties that will aim at rewarding the hiring teams that manages to display expanded diversity selections and inclusivity. As the teams that meet the target or strive to observe the rules and policies of hiring are rewarded, the teams that does not reach this goal should be punished heavily either by fines or suspension from NFL activities.
The above incentives and penalties models would serve as checks and balances towards the achievement of the goals of the Rooney policy. Thirdly, NFL management should work on devolving the hiring rules and policies to college level so as to grow the culture of appreciating diversity at an early stage. The above strategies are key to ensuring that this sport remains at the heart of many citizens and the board will have time and resources to handle other issues if the diversity crisis is adequately addressed. However, NFL is not an exception since most companies have encountered the challenge of diversity. Hence, the only solution is identifying the possible facilitators of the crisis and coming up with solutions and strategies that serve to address this challenge.
The National Football League has gradually recovered from the diversity crisis after the implementation of the Rooney Rule. However, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of this policy but it still stands that NFL has made greater strides to address this issue under the Rooney Rule policy. It is evident from the increased number of black head coaches, assistant coaches and general managers. However, NFL is not yet there as there is still a staggering percentage of people of color in their management and coaching positions. Hence, NFL must continue with the same momentum of transforming its hiring practices to open up doors and create opportunities for players of color to coach and manage. The NFL management must continue to ensure that all candidates are considered because they deserve equality and fairness and are not just interviewed because there is a rule.
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