Last week, WFAN sports yakker Mike Francesa took a call on his radio show from a gentleman with a young daughter who is a big sports fan. What, the caller asked Francesa, are the chances that his daughter could one day coach a men’s team?
“Here’s your thing: You have decided that your daughter should be allowed to manage a professional team. Let’s be honest: Your daughter, maybe she’ll become a great athlete. Maybe she’ll become a great executive. But the problem is there’s not gonna be an avenue for her to manage a major league men’s team,” Francesa said. “First of all, do you know how difficult it would be for a female to manage 25 men? Or 50 men? Do you know how impossible that would be? … It wouldn’t be tough. It would be impossible. You’re gonna tell me that you would think a woman could walk in to an NFL team and coach as a head coach, 15 assistants and 50 to 60 men?”
On Monday, Francesa didn’t back off those incendiary remarks and used the opening segment of his afternoon show to assert that it’s “not being chauvinist” to say women aren’t well-suited to coaching men. In fact, it’s “just being reasonable.”
“There’s no saying that everybody has to do every single job. Some are better for some people. That’s all,” Francesa said (via New York Post). “That’s not being chauvinist. That’s not being Stone Aged. That’s just being reasonable. … It is difficult for men to run these rooms.”
Francesa continued: “I have no problem with women advancing in business, they have every right to do and they will do it as well as men, maybe better. Same thing with politics, we’ve seen that. … In male sports at the highest level, running young athletes, bringing them along on the college level, coaching them, teaching them, disciplining them, trying to turn them into a cohesive group, is probably harder now, with all the trappings we have, than it’s ever been before.”
Last week, the caller brought up Becky Hammon, the first full-time female assistant in NBA history with the San Antonio Spurs. Francesa repeatedly said she has “no shot” to become an NBA head coach and suggested that she only got the job because, with five NBA titles, Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich has the freedom to do whatever he wants.
“The odds on that are a million to one, and if it wasn’t the most dominant coach in the league doing that, I’m not even sure anyone else would even hire a woman right now,” Francesa said. “I think it’s an honorable thing but the bottom line is, what you’re asking her to do is an incredibly difficult thing to do. It really would be unfair. It’s not even something that would make sense to aspire to.”
Francesa continued to dismiss the possibility that Hammon (or Kings assistant Nancy Lieberman) could get a head coaching job in the NBA, saying Monday that it wouldn’t be “anything more than a publicity stunt.”
“I don’t see how that in any way is Stone Age. If it ever happened, I don’t think it would be anything more than a publicity stunt, I don’t think it would last,” Francesa said.
During last week’s show, Francesa had also said that the late Pat Summit, who won eight national titles and an all-sexes-record 1,098 games as Tennessee’s women’s coach, never would have wanted to be an NBA coach, and that the caller’s daughter probably shouldn’t even try to become one.
“You want to see it because you think that you’re closing off an avenue to your daughter, but that’s not closing off an avenue; that’s not something that’s realistic. For her to coach the men is not a realistic destination. It’s not realistic. I don’t think you understand how difficult that would be. I don’t think you understand a woman in the locker room running 50 men — do you know how difficult that would be?”
Of course, Summit, who was widely respected across the basketball community, including by those in the NBA and men’s college hoops, did coach men, if however briefly, when she took over a Tennessee men’s practice because she was fed up with the way players were conducting themselves. But maybe that’s not the discipline Francesa was talking about.
You can listen to the whole exchange between the father and Francesa here:
As you can see from the end of the video, Francesa in the past has said that he would have “done well” as an NFL coach even though he has no actual NFL experience. But women who actually have been there? It’s apparently “not realistic.” Got it.