Welter Hire A Stunt If
She Doesn't Stay For Season
The Cardinals And Welter Deserve To Be Lauded, But If She Doesn’t Make The Regular-Season Staff, Then The Appearance Of Good Intentions Will Be Washed Away By The Truth
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
August 4, 2015 —New Arizona Cardinals assistant Jen Welter made history last week when she became the first female coach to ever work in the NFL. The move is certainly a positive step forward for a league that has a terrible track record when it comes to how its teams and players treat women.
But, those praising the move as a huge leap for women in sports need to reexamine the hire. While “NFL team hires first female coach” is a great press release headline, it doesn’t accurately reflect what the Cardinals organization actually did.
The Cardinals hired Welter as a preseason intern and assistant to the inside linebackers coach. She will stick around for preseason activities, workouts and games, but come the regular season, Welter will no longer have a position with the team unless the Cardinals decide to hire her on full time. While such a “promotion” is possible, let’s just assume for a moment that she will NOT be part of the regular-season staff.
Operating under that assumption — which in my opinion is inevitable — this hiring is only slightly better than a publicity stunt because although technically Welter is the first female coach in the NFL, this moment is not exactly on par with previous coach signings that broke the gender barrier in other sports. The Spurs hiring of Becky Hammon as the first woman to become a full-time assistant coach in the NBA is something real.
So, far, Welter’s hiring smacks of a stunt.
This is not to lessen Welter’s achievement, as it is monumental. She managed to crack one of the most notorious boys clubs in sports. Whether she did it as an intern or a head coach is irrelevant in that regard, and she should be applauded.
The Cardinals, and the NFL by extension, should not be applauded, though. They should be slapped over the head while we collectively yell, “What took so long?”
NFL and team executives should not be lauded for “allowing” Welter to become an intern in this notorious boys club. Because she deserves a hell of a lot more than that. The achievement is hers, not theirs. And, quite frankly, she deserved a lot more.
Let’s just take a look at Welter’s resume for a second. On the academic side, she holds a master’s degree in Sports psychology and a Ph.D. in psychology. Her playing resume is not bad either. She was a member of Team USA that won gold at the International Federation of American Football championships and has over a decade of playing experience in female leagues. She even played running back for the Texas Revolution of the professional men’s Indoor Football League.
If that’s not enough, Welter then became the first woman to coach in a professional football league when the Revolution hired her as linebackers and special teams coach in 2012.
So, pardon me for thinking an internship is beneath Welter. In most industries, internships are a way for students, recent college grads and other inexperienced professionals to find a foothold. The situation in the NFL is similar as preseason interns are generally former players and young college coaches trying to breakthrough as NFL coaches.
It is borderline (or maybe not borderline) insulting to offer an internship to a person with two advanced degrees and over a decade of professional experience.
Look at it this way. The Cardinals are receiving accolades for becoming the first team to hire a female coach, but if the script was flipped and the team offered an internship to a man with a similar resume, he would likely scoff at the offer and take one of the many full-time assistant coaching positions offered by other teams. Furthermore, the media wouldn’t expend one word writing about it.
The Cardinals need to make this situation right and offer Welter a full-time coaching position by the time the regular season rolls around. If it doesn’t, then this hire was little more than a publicity stunt and definitely not the huge step forward that the NFL and media outlets are making it out to be.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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