As Jen Welter finishes her historic internship with the Arizona Cardinals, which made her the first woman to to coach in the NFL, she's calling for more women to join the league and impact changes both on and off the field.
Specifically, Welter said more female coaches could help address the problem of domestic violence within the NFL.
“I think if you saw the reaction that maybe my players had to having a female coach and loving it … maybe there’s a need for more of that," Welter said in an interview with Yahoo's Katie Couric that published Wednesday.
She added, “You have an opportunity to make them better men and not just better football players, and ultimately that is the goal.”
Welter, who has a master's degree in sports psychology and a Ph.D. in psychology, also suggested that players should have marriage and relationship counseling. As of right now, former players and their families are eligible for eight free counseling sessions per year, according to the NFL, for "mental health issues, including personal relationships, alcohol and substances of abuse."
While women may be absent from the sidelines, the NFL did make a push to hire more women in executive positions last year following the Ray Rice saga. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced last September that four women would help address the domestic violence and social issues within the league. A new personal conduct policy was announced later that year, and both NFL players and attendees of the 2015 NFL Draft have been required to go through mandatory sexual assault and domestic violence education.
Education and counseling, however, only go so far. The NFL and its arbitrators have come under criticism for their handling of disciplinary actions toward players who have been involved in such cases.
Studies have also shown that while the arrest rate for domestic violence in the NFL is lower than the national average, it still remains an issue among the league's players.
As Welter -- and others in the NFL have said before -- domestic violence and sexual assault are "not just NFL problems. They’re societal problems."
If the NFL believes women's perspectives could help in shaping its policies off the field, it's hard to argue with Welter that a woman's presence on the field, and among players, could bring some additional change as well.
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