This week, I write with no contempt in my words and no furious typing on my keyboard. Given the world we live in, this might sound unfathomable and even fake. But seriously, I am listening to great music and I am grinning in such an excited way because this week, I bring good news and good news only — the NFL has hired its first full-time female coach.
Kathryn Smith was hired as the Buffalo Bills’ quality control-special teams coach. She has been working with the NFL since an internship with the New York Jets in 2003. Even though I do not follow football at all — except for that one time freshman year I was forced to watch the Super Bowl — I have always perceived the sport as hyper-masculine, which is dissipated by adding Smith as a full-time coach. Currently, what could be better?
The head coach of the Buffalo Bills, Rex Ryan, said Becky Hammon inspired him when she became the first female full-time assistant coach in the NBA in 2014. Usually, I would try and argue how Ryan had to look to someone else to be inspired, and how everyone is always scared to make the first move in “uncomfortable” situations like gender equality. However, I understand. I would rather people recognize a good trend and try to follow it because it indicates the shift to a new status quo. At least, that is what I would like to believe.
Football has always been a sport with which I have associated the epitome of a stereotypical male, and I should not do that. Unfortunately, along with probably more than half of this world, I have been socialized into thinking that way. Kathryn Smith and efforts like this, however, will erase this social construct to create one that fits 2016 better. I honestly cannot wait for that.
Is it a bit late for us to be talking about football in a less masculine manner? Probably, but I still do not see that in a negative light. What I see it as is an attempt to change a mentality in people that has been set in stone for years, and I appreciate that people want to change the way this sport is seen even if some might think it is a bit late. Focusing on the positive comments I have been surrounded by since the outbreak of this news, I do not think that this step represents tardiness, but appropriateness. People are ready to see a change, and people are embracing this change.
Kathryn Smith is a full-time coach for the NFL. Let that sink in. After years of working for this institution, her efforts have paid off. Let that sink in. Some games might only focus on her gender now. Do not let that sink in. Losses and wins might invariably be associated with her. Do not let that sink in. For one second in 2016, amid all the terrible news in the world, women are shining through. Let that sink in. At least for today, let that sink in.