Friday Night Tykes: How Women Shouldn’t Coach

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Anyone who knows me moderately well knows that I love me some Friday Night Tykes. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a reality TV show based on youth football leagues in Texas and Pennsylvania. It’s packed with all the drama that comes from the combination of talented youth football players, questionable parenting and coaching and cable TV editing. I love it. While the show is understandably mostly about the boys who play and the men who coach them; occasionally, the storyline follows a young girl who dares to play with the boys or a woman who is knowledgeable and brave enough to stand on the sidelines as a coach. Last night, we got a glimpse at one of those women, but unfortunately, she was neither brave nor showed herself to be knowledgeable. On the contrary, she used very cowardly, thoughtless tactics in an effort to win a football game, and showed how women shouldn’t be coaching. Let me tell you what happened.

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The Women of the College Football National Championship

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In the weeks leading up to the College Football National Championship we’ve heard and read a TON about the offenses, defenses, coaches, players and percentages of the Clemson Tigers and Alabama Crimson Tide. And rightfully so, the teams are setting us up for a National Championship for the record books. These men have worked extremely hard for the opportunity to play for a National Championship, so they deserve all the coverage they get. But there are some people we haven’t heard much about who have also played important roles in getting these teams to the National Championship. There are many, many people behind the scenes who work to help keep the machines that are Clemson and Alabama football running smoothly and successfully. They’re in recruitment, development, athletic training and management and without them, victories aren’t possible. Unbeknownst to many, a number of these crucial positions are held by women. In preparation for tonight’s showdown on the gridiron, we thought it only fitting to give a shout out to just a few of women who’ve help bring Clemson and Alabama to Tampa Bay, FL.

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HAIL TO THE REDNECKS

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Not too long ago I found myself in my home state of South Carolina standing in an NFL gear shop with my brother. I was doing some shopping when I characteristically found myself engaged in football banter. The target of the Townes Trash Talk was a random, middle-aged white man. He was an avid Carolina Panthers fan, and my brother and I proudly pull for the burgundy and gold of the NFC East. When we mentioned that our team resided in the nation’s capital, this random man said, “Oh, you like the Washington Rednecks.” My brother and I shook our heads, laughed it off and continued with our light-heartedly back and forth. But when I got home, I couldn’t seem to shake the fact that this man had called my beloved team the Rednecks. Rednecks. The term didn’t personally hurt my feelings but his statement served as a wake-up call. While the term redneck conjures up a number of images, the one I’m most familiar with is that of a rural, poor, white, Southern person who holds bigoted, ultra-conservative views. Growing up in the grand old South I had run into my (un)fair share of those kinds of “rednecks.” So when the gentlemen called my team the Rednecks, that’s what I saw; a bunch of racist white men flying burgundy and gold flags with pictures of Native Americans on them.

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THE IMPORTANCE OF ALLIES

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Much of the sports world has been engaged in a fierce debate about NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his protest against America’s racism and historic patterns of institutional injustices against people of color.  While much of the media may be showing that the vast majority of football players and Americans are disgusted by Kaepernick’s refusal to stand in reverence for the National Anthem, conversations on social media and in-person show that many, many people support Kaepernick for peacefully exercising his First Amendment and human rights.  One such supporter has been U.S. Women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe.

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WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON AT BAYLOR?!

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On any given day over the past several months you were very likely to come across a headline about Baylor University and its problem with sexual assault.  Football players were (and still are) de-committing, administrators were being fired and repurposed, there were convictions, cover-ups, interviews and investigations at every turn.  If chaos has come to mind at any point while taking it all in, I’d say you’ve got an excellent grip on what’s going on down in Waco.  For years the University has been insufferable in its handling of claims of sexual violence perpetrated by its student-athletes, and now all hell is breaking loose as things are coming to light.  The administration has provided shameful and unlawful responses to numerous women who have voiced their allegations of sexual violence.  And it seems the school has done so in the name of protecting the pigskin. But while the headlines have a laser beam on Baylor, Baylor is really only a fraction and consequence of the problem, not the entire or source of it.  Continue reading

NO COUNTRY FOR TENNESSEE COACHES

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On February 9th we learned of another Title IX lawsuit against a major institution.  This time a group of unnamed women are alleging the University of Tennessee violated Title IX by creating a “hostile sexual environment” through its established pattern of indifference towards claims that student-athletes engaged in sexual assaults.  A few days later on February 12th, after their win against Vanderbilt, the Lady Volunteers basketball team sat down for a postgame press conference.  During the press conference Tennessee staff prevented players from responding to questions about (in light of the lawsuit) their safety on and off campus.  While the student-athletes were not allowed to share their opinions, Head Coach Holly Warlick wasted no time sharing hers.  In an interview Warlick stated, among other things, that to maintain safety:

We travel in groups and do what you’re supposed to do…You just don’t travel late at night.  Our kids feel extremely safe on our campus.  Our campus is extremely safe and I think kids have got to be responsible and they’ve got to be smart.  You don’t go out by yourself at night, I don’t care where you are.  Continue reading

HOW ERICA KINSMAN & AMBER ROSE WON THIS WEEK

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This week women have had some newsworthy victories.  On Monday, it was announced that Florida State University (FSU) would pay Erica Kinsman $950,000 and commit itself to sexual assault awareness, prevention and training programs in exchange for Kinsman dismissing her Title IX lawsuit against the school.  Yesterday, Amber Rose got a win for every woman who has been shamed because of her sexuality when she quite effortlessly dismissed her ranting ex, Kanye West, and his childish antics.  While these ladies, one a co-ed from a small town in Florida and the other one of the most recognizable models in the world, may seem eons apart, they and their victories really are quite closely related.  You see, Kinsman sued FSU for its mishandling of her claim that she was raped by former FSU quarterback, Jameis Winston[1].  In a legal sense, she sued FSU for sexual discrimination.  And Rose, well I’ll get back to Rose in a minute.  For now, let’s focus on Kinsman, FSU and Title IX. Continue reading