On Wednesday night, the Buffalo Bills made NFL history, announcing that Kathryn Smith will serve as special teams quality control coach next season. The promotion marks the first time ever that a woman has been made a full-time member of an NFL coaching staff -- a fact and feat that should be celebrated and built upon.
But on Thursday morning, the glass ceiling that was -- for a moment-- shattered by the promotion was pieced back together, courtesy of Cleveland radio host Kevin Kiley, who condemned the Bills for the move: “There is no place for a woman in professional sports,” he said.
Kiley went on to call the hiring “absurd,” describe the person that chose her as an “idiot” and reason that Buffalo made this move simply to “try” to be progressive, while really the team is “heading down the wrong road.”
“She couldn’t possibly be qualified to the same level [as] a man,” Kiley added, explaining that while he wouldn’t “mind it as much” if there were female coaches in the NBA or MLB, the very fact that men “have the ability to impose [their] will physically on most people" (while women, it is implied, do not) makes the former gender the only gender that could truly be worthy of rising through this league’s coaching ranks.
Never mind that Smith has worked in NFL teams’ front offices for over a decade, building a career with the New York Jets as a game day/special events intern, as a college scouting intern and as a player personnel assistant before heading north to Buffalo, where she’s served as Rex Ryan’s administrative assistant. But all Smith’s qualifications are -- and always will be, apparently -- dwarfed for Kiley by the simple fact that she’s a woman, and thereby -- inherently, apparently -- doesn’t have what it takes to succeed on the NFL sidelines.
There is no place for a woman in professional sports.
Kiley rounded out his rant with a pair of analogies. First, he likened the “absurd” nature of this promotion to the “absurd” idea that women could be qualified to vote for Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees. “Do you want a woman to have a vote on that, who’s never played the game and doesn’t understand," he said.
When co-host Ken Carman provided the (reasonable, rational, not blatantly bigoted) counterargument that many of the people that currently have that honor are sportswriters, and are thus likely also to have never played the sport at a high level, Kiley responded with a curt, brusque sentence that summed up his entire argument: “But they’re men!”
She’s not suited to advance through the coaching ranks.
The second analogy went as follows: “If you hired her to take a wheelbarrow full of bricks on a construction site, she’d be put in a position to fail. And the reason would be she’s not suited to do that -- [just like] she’s not suited to advance through the coaching ranks … [That’s] the truth.”
That is, he likened the odds of a woman being a good coach to the chances that she could singlehandedly move a load of bricks by herself. What he’s saying is that it’s impossible, that it’s just not going to happen -- and he repeats this over and over, using the phrase “destined to fail” seemingly every other breath.
It’s troubling that this even needs to be said in 2016, but there is absolutely no room for this kind of macho fodder in our public dialogues or on our airwaves. There’s no excuse for it and no rationale behind it -- women, like the San Antonio Spurs’ Becky Hammon, have proved themselves more than capable in the sports world. Just ask Gregg Popovich.
Kevin Kiley should really sit out this conversation. There is no place for a misogynist in professional sports.
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