The Rooney Rule: The NFL’s Failed Attempt at Diversity

I’ve always been a moderate football fan. I used to watch it with my family, but ever since Kap got booted out of the league I have been boycotting in solidarity of his treatment SuperBowl 52: I’m Just Here for the Dip. As the Superbowl is this weekend I wanted to highlight an odd NFL rule that has been in the news lately.

In 2003, the NFL implemented the Rooney Rule which requires NFL teams to interview candidates who are of color for the head coaching and general manger positions. It should go without saying that if you need to create a rule that forces your organization to interview people of color then you might have some racial issues within your company.  After the rule was implemented there was a slight increase in coaches of color, but the trend has declined in the past few years.

It also begs the question that if candidates of color are being interviewed then why are they not being hired? The simple answer is that the NFL is racist.  I know there are many who would argue that an organization that employs athletes of color and pays them millions of dollars is not racist. But the NFL is making billions of dollars off of ads, and partnerships. The NFL is also pandering to who their biggest supporters are. Football when it started was a white American sport and it is still big business in the whitest parts of America.

The NFL has announced that they will reexamine the Rooney Rule after the latest batch of coaches hired did not include one single person of color, but the players that they are coaching are almost 70 percent black.  Nothing will change until the fans or the players start speaking up. The fans won’t because the NFL’s fanbase does not want to see coaches of color. It’s up to the players who are putting their health and lives on the line to say something. Because no one would be tuning in to watch a bunch of old white men play football.

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