Start Treating Female Basketball Coaches with Respect on National Girls and Women in Sports Day
On Monday, history was made in the OVAC when an all-female crew refereed a high school girls basketball game. Today, we celebrated National Women in Sports Day. After spending the last two evenings and the weekend coaching boys basketball, I feel compelled to comment on the climate in the sports world, specifically basketball. In my opinion and in my experience, women coaches are not respected by male referees nor are they afforded the same, if any, leeway when advocating for their players on questionable calls. I have watched male coaches scream, yell, cuss and verbally assault referees and they are not given technical fouls. I have witnessed male coaches running on the court making a scene pleading for a call or upset about one, without the referee batting an eyelash. Yet, in the 10 years I have coached basketball, I must tiptoe around and walk on eggshells with every question or conversation I have with the referees. In ten years of coaching school and AAU ball both on the boys and girls side, I have been given 2 technicals. Neither of which did I say a curse word. Neither of which did I come out on the court screaming, yelling, pointing, etc. For one, I was actually just sitting on the bench and for the other, I was talking to my assistant coach about the questionability of the call. Why is it that female coaches are held to a higher standard of conduct? I must add that I highly respect many of the referees that I have encountered; many are my friends. But let’s face it, we all know who the “good ones” are and we all have our favorites. That being said, I would love to hear from many of my friends and colleague coaches regarding why the climate is so negative for women coaches. Most that have seen me coaching or coached against me know that every moment is a teaching moment. I coach with passion and I advocate for my players when necessary. I am also well versed in the rules of basketball and refereeing. So, why is it that it’s harder for me and other females to be respected? Is it because we threaten the males that don’t like a woman questioning them? Is it because some men don’t like their mistakes pointed out by a woman? Or is it just complete chauvinism? Whatever it is, it needs to stop. Women should be given the same coaching platform as their male counterparts, just as female players should be afforded the same respect as male players, and female referees should be given the same respect as male referees. We are holding females in the game back terribly when we live with the archaic belief that women are anything but equal to men. It’s not surprising to me that the two times I did receive a technical it was from older gentlemen, so maybe it is a generational thing, but we need to change that. Most referees I encounter show me respect, and I show them respect. I have made connections with many wonderful people out of town through basketball and coaching- both referees and coaches. But as with all things in life, there is a group of people holding the rest of us back. They are not allowing the game to evolve the way that it should because they are stuck with some old fashioned view of what a woman’s place should be. I am hopeful that we can all help to change the climate for the betterment of women’s sports and women in general. I will do my part for the people that came before me and for the little girls coming after me!