Last Monday the Arizona Cardinals announced that they had hired someone for a coaching intern position. Why is this news, you ask?
This is news because Dr. Jen Welter (who seems extremely overqualified to be a training camp intern given her impressive career in the women’s league and a doctorate in psychology) is the NFL’s first female coach. Ever.
Already anticipating the backlash, Cardinals’ coach Bruce Arians said early on during the announcement that “this is not going to be a distraction.”
It seems like whenever a woman earns a coaching position in professional sports, that is the biggest point of criticism. She’ll be “a distraction.” For whom? For the team? For the fans? For the media? I’m imagining all sorts of rom-com-esque moments where football players get lost in Dr. Welter’s distracting eyes, miss a pass, run into a wall, resulting in season-ruining injury. It could happen, sure. I’m also beginning to see that “distraction” is just sports-center-speak for “she’s a woman and she doesn’t belong here.”
The bad news for Coach Arians is that, for me, she is going to be a distraction. I’m not a football fan, and I’m definitely not a Cardinals fan, but I may just start watching only for Jen Welter because as far as women in sports are concerned, she’s just touched down on the moon.
And thank you to NBC Sports for this rousing, inspirational assertion that “this gesture from the Cardinals and Arians will prompt more women to regard coaching football as a viable career path at lower levels of the sport.”
You heard it here, ladies. Don’t reach for the stars; the lower levels are really much more viable.