I heard this story twice in the car today – former professional football player Natalie Randolph was named head coach of the football team at Coolidge High School. The first time I heard the story, it included an interview with Randolph by NPR host Robert Siegel.
I was happy to hear Randolph report that she’s received support from the Coolidge community, including the players themselves. It was also great to hear her remark that her main goal is to help her students succeed both on the field and in the classroom. Near the end of the interview, Siegel pointed out that there had been quite a bit of “cranky” comments on a Washington Post article about her appointment, statements like “‘what’s a woman doing coaching a high school football team?’” I scrolled through the comments and found this gem by “Scoreboard 44″ on the first page [all spelling original]:
One sport, one sport that you really want a man coaching boys in is Football.
Boys need role models. Role models need to be men. We have recently been having this conversation that men have become to feminine in society and are boys don’t have any role models to emulate.
Now we have a woman being hired to coach what is essentially and has alway essentially been, a mans sport. I don’t care what semi pro female team she played for. This is an experiment. And the experiment is on the boys. The emasculation of the US male species, because women say it’s so and okay.
This is one sport, where I am sorry, women have no place in. I’m tired of hearing it…just stop for crying out loud, do females have to participate in everything men do? Does this make it difficult for the players on both teams and the coaching staff of both teams when they play….yes! Why do this? What point is being made here.
One sport..one sport that should be all boys and men coaching. Good Lord. And I don’t want to hear any PC crap about woman should be allowed to coach football just like men.
This is a brutal physical sport that rips the testosterone from guys and puts it on display. There is no place here for an estrogen injection.
I am not sure if this is the article Siegel refers to, since there appear to be a couple in the Post on Randolph, but the comments certainly fit the description. Comments questioning the ability of a person to coach a sport (or do any job, for that matter) purely on the basis of their gender is the most of obvious kind of sexism. Were that it always so easy to spot.
I’m not sure why Siegel would choose to refer to this as a “cranky” attitude rather than just call it sexism pure and simple. In the 21st century, it’s less acceptable to be openly hostile to a person because of their gender, but clearly, the attitudes still exist. Downplaying this hostility by labeling it “cranky” does little to help discourage it, especially since, I suspect, many of those same commenters would not consider themselves “sexist.” I really doubt that Siegel intended to downplay the sexism with his comments, but it’s important to remember that small comments like this are all part of the larger narrative surrounding gender in the US today. If we can’t even point out the most clear examples of sexism, how do we ever expect to root out sexism in it’s more pernicious forms?