After digging in his position last week that a woman will never be a head coach in a major professional men’s sport, WFAN’s Mike Francesa entrenched himself even further on Monday.
Francesa’s original statement was in response to a caller asking if his daughter would ever have a chance at becoming a head coach in one of the four major pro sports. “You have to have been in the game” was one of the remarks he made during a five-minute commentary on women not being qualified for such a position.
As you might expect, many objected to Francesa’s comments as sexist, especially considering the inroads women have made in male professional sports within the past five years. Newsday columnist Barbara Barker basically called him a dinosaur who hasn’t taken notice of how the world has changed during his 30 years at WFAN. The Wall Street Journal‘s Jason Gay challenged Francesa with a $1,000 bet that San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon would be an NBA head coach in the next five years.
On Monday’s show, a different caller voiced his support for Francesa, saying society is quick to label those who don’t agree with their progressive views as intolerant. Given the invitation, Francesa then elaborated on his remarks from last week. Here’s the audio, courtesy of our friend @SportsFunhouse:
Wow. Francesa says if a woman got a NBA HC job, it would be a publicity stunt. Because they OBVIOUSLY wouldn't be the most qualified person! pic.twitter.com/LMFhclqi5L
— Funhouse (@SportsFunhouse) March 6, 2017
“Not everything is about a bigger picture,” Francesa said. “Some things are just what they are. Some things are just not practical.
“It’s a million-to-one that it would ever be successful. Could somebody do it as a publicity stunt? Yes, I mean, that can always happen. And that’s what it would be, unfortunately. Because that person would not be the best candidate for the job. There are far more qualified people from a pool that would be 99.9 percent male.”
Francesa continued his argument for what turned out to be an 18-minute monologue, according to Newsday‘s Neil Best:
“It is so ridiculous. It makes absolutely no sense. And it’s not chauvinistic.
“This is a completely unique situation, trying to get women to run male athletic organizations at the highest level as far as coaching young athletes. It’s a difficult thing for men to do. The idea of women doing it is ridiculous . . . It is honest and it is reasonable. It is not in any way derogatory. I wasn’t being derogatory to anybody.”
Some will surely give Francesa credit for not backing down or even bending a little bit on his opinion here. That certainly makes for good sports talk radio, compelling listeners and callers, in addition to articles such as this one. Many likely agree with Francesa’s assertion, while others will point to Hammon’s success in the NBA, including winning a Summer League title, along with Nancy Lieberman coaching in the league as an assistant.
Saying a woman wouldn’t be qualified certainly comes off as “derogatory,” implying that a female coach would be less suited for a head coaching position than a man. While Francesa tries to frame his opinion by saying a female couldn’t coach men because they weren’t in the game, that simply runs contrary to what reality is in the coaching ranks.
Plenty of people coach at the professional level without having played at that level. Some may not have played the sport they coach at all, but demonstrated an aptitude for teaching, strategy, film study and leadership. So why would this really be any different? Might there be more of a credibility gap to bridge with some players? Sure. But athletes ultimately want to get better, and if a coach’s tutelage accomplishes that objective, most will likely listen. That’s what Francesa is ignoring with his remarks.