Female football coach blows chauvinist pig minds
Bringing back a 1970s, Equal Rights Amendment-era sobriquet such as “chauvinist pig” seems appropriate given some of the reaction to one Natalie Randolph — a dame! a chick! a skirt! — on March 12 officially taking over as head football coach at Washington, D.C.’s Coolidge High. As far as anyone can tell, the 29-year-old Randolph is the nation’s only female high school football coach. [MARCH 13 UPDATE: She isn’t. But she’s one of a very, very few.]
From Washington Post metro columnist Petula Dvorak:
After The Post broke the story Wednesday [March 10] that Natalie Randolph will take the job at Calvin Coolidge Senior High School in the District and probably be the only such female coach in the nation, a flurry of online commenters worried about the boys of Coolidge.
“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,” one reader commented on the story.
I wonder if this person has ever seen childbirth up close.
“THERE’S NO WAY IN HELL A FEMALE CAN BE CONSIDERED A LEGITIMATE COACH OF FOOTBALL,” another ranted.
I’m sure Randolph knows more than anyone that her lack of a penis is going to come back again and again as an issue, even though she played women’s semipro football and has experience as an assistant coach in the District schools.
No. 81 in your DC Divas program, No. 1 in your hearts. Check out the TD catch Randolph makes at 1:25 in this summation of the Divas’ 2006 championship season.
Even though it appears Randolph is the only female head football coach at any American high school, Dvorak points out that women have had success coaching boys’ teams elsewhere.
That includes Joanie Welch of Wasilla, Alaska, a hockey mom who has brought her presumably Palin-esque pit-bull-with-lipstick style (if we believe the Sarah Palin definition of hockey mom) to the local high school as an assistant hockey coach for the last three seasons, in her first year attempting to guide a local lothario named Levi Johnston.
Back to Randolph, as unfortunate as it seems that her being a head football coach is news — even in an age where the Florida High School Athletic Association (dubiously) claims football is a coed sport — what’s even more unfortunate is that her coaching at all is news.
Yes, there are many female coaches at all levels of sport. Research by Nicole LaVoi, associate director of the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport and Michael Messner, professor of gender studies at sociology at USC, finds that only one of five youth sports coaches is female, even though by at least one count, girls comprise close to 50 percent of all youth sports participants.
While LaVoi and I have some slight differences on why that number is low, we would be in agreement that it would be great to see that number go up. I’m disappointed that this year, for my 7-year-old son’s baseball team, I will not have a female assistant, as I did last year. It was disappointing that when I managed by 10-year-old daughter’s softball teams, I never had a female assistant, even though I begged one ex-softball playing mom to come aboard. (Claiming she was too busy — a pretty legitimate claim, and a common reason in my experience why moms haven’t coached — she instead sent her husband.) I was heartened that one the assistants of my 10-year-old daughters’ co-ed basketball team was (well, still is) a woman.
I think the message sent to both boys and girls by having a female coaching (and I don’t believe she has to be relegated to an assistant — it’s just in these cases I happened to be the head coach) is that women can be athletic role models and are knowledgeable about sports. Again, that seems like a ridiculous message 40 years into Title IX, but a subtle message can creep in, with no female coaches, that sports is a boy thing only. It’s my 10-year-old daughter, not my 7-year-old son, who talks about how unusual she is compared to her classmates that likes to play sports.
In Randolph’s case, I’m going to bet that while some of her players might at first resist having a girl for a football coach, that opposition will fall as it would for any male coach. That is, once it’s clear to them she knows what she’s doing, they will follow. At least the players are at the age where their lack of maturity might excuse some of their conduct vis-a-vis a lady football coach.
I’m not sure what the excuse would be for adult football coaches who would know better than to worry about a dame! a chick! a skirt!, like this knucklehead quoted anonymously (way to have some balls, tough guy) in the Washington Post:
“All I know is, I don’t want to be the first one to lose to her. That’s going to be wild.”