Barriers at the entry level make it harder for minority candidates to fill the pipeline

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Last year, the NFL created an incentive for developing minority coaches and executives into head coach and General Managers. Regardless of whether the incentive helps or hurts (reasonable minds differ on this point), the rule awarding draft picks to teams who lose minority assistant coaches or executives to major jobs elsewhere necessarily applies to people already in the building.

There’s a separate challenge relating to getting minority employees in the building.

Those entry-level jobs often go to relatives or friends of the head coach or other executives with the team, including ownership. When nepotism doesn’t open doors, cronyism does — it’s not what you know but who you know continues to have significant relevance in NFL team facilities.

There’s another impediment. For those who earn a job in the lower levels of the coaching staff or the front office without being related to or knowing someone in power, they need to have another source of money to cover expenses like, you know, housing and food. The low-level jobs with NFL teams often don’t pay a living wage, using lack of pay and excess work hours as some sort of bizarre training ground for proving that the employee “loves” football.

Not many people can bust their asses at a low-wage job, however. They need some other source of revenue, which necessarily prevents potentially qualified candidates from pursuing a career in football.

Throw those three factors together, and that helps further explain the inability of minority candidates to rise to the highest levels of an NFL organization. In plenty of cases, the challenge arises from getting a foot in the door.

22 responses to “Barriers at the entry level make it harder for minority candidates to fill the pipeline

  1. “Not many people can bust their asses at a low-wage job, however. They need some other source of revenue, which necessarily prevents potentially qualified candidates from pursuing a career in football”

    This remark implies that minorities are not as willing to make the sacrafices at the front end that they need to obtain the higher roles. Even in my career now, my first job out of college paid peanuts but you have to pay the price to get in the mix. That is part of making the cut – if you arent willing to work for peanuts to cut your teeth, the top side jobs arent for you. They require real work to get to the top.

  2. “When nepotism doesn’t open doors, cronyism does — it’s not what you know but who you know continues to have significant relevance in NFL team facilities.”
    ————————

    Then start getting to know the “right” people and go work on your networking skills. Done.

  3. New Lions GM Brad Holmes started out as a PR guy with the Rams and he was reportedly offered the same role by Detroit 18 years ago.

  4. So then should we be “blaming” the small number of minority coaches and executives for not giving jobs to their friends and family? The average pipeline to becoming an NFL coach is fairly consistent- Play in college (don’t make it to NFL), Become a college assistant, Get a shot as an NFL assistant, Get promoted to a coordinator, Become a head coach. That first jump can be tough. It means giving up on your dream and working for low pay, but almost every NFL head coach did it early in their careers. Are those the opportunities not being opened up (or promoted) to minority candidates?

  5. Nepotism: Zac Collinsworth, sons of Schottenheimer, Shanahan & Belichick to name a few. Some may gain valuable experience and become very qualified but we know they got a headstart.

  6. Would you please also share your research on the lack of diversity amoung the players? There’s clearly a problem there that no one seems to be talking about. Thank you.

  7. The whole argument for more minority coaches is that 69% of players are a minority and the coaching profiles should more closely reflect that. That’s implying you need to be an ex player to coach and if you’re an ex player you should have plenty of money to live off of while you work your way up the coaching ranks

  8. Nepotism and internships? Things that have been involved in business my whole life. I did an internship in my youth. I was stoked when I got it. Face it, we just have a different kind of attitude now. Oh and by the way, I got the internship because I knew someone.

  9. I know a guy who once said, “there are none so blind as those who will not see”

    Some folks come to mind.

  10. I am confused about what constitutes a minority hire. Is the Saleh hiring a minority hiring and thus SF gets 3rd rd picks as comp which is what i heard. Why? He is lebanese descent but he was born in America. How many people are not minority then by that definition? Everyone can trace their roots back to another country at some point! This has turned into hire anyone but a white person and the previous team gets rewarded. But what is a “white” person? Everyone is from another country. Would an Italian descent coach fit that profile? He would be considered a minority. I am a Miami fan and think we have a great coach in Flores. Skin color and descent shouldn’t matter. You can either coach or you can’t. But i do understand the situation out there. How does Staley get a HC gig with 4 years of coaching experience?? BUT you cannot use minority as a blanket when everyone can be considered a minority at some point in the family tree.

  11. Sounds like 95 percent of all jobs & hiring in the business world. It’s about who you know, & someone getting you in. There’s a reason most people in high positions in government went to the same Ivy League colleges….networking…

  12. Thankfully we have PFT to point out the numerous challenges the obstacles our brothers and sister of color face. The war on systemic racism must be fought and it begins with each and every individual battle. We must stay vigilant and walk together down the path to true equality.

  13. The phenomenon of the barrier created by the low wages of entry level positions in professional sports has existed for forever in baseball, for economically disadvantaged minority and non-minority candidates. This has always been treated as a matter-of-fact reality of how the world works, same as networking (the proper term that this article strangely labels “cronyism”). Cronyism involves hires from within a network that do not meet expected qualifications – but, of course, the qualifications for low-level positions are low (they’re needed to build qualifications) and the demand for such positions is high. It makes sense that when those running a team are inundated with applications for low-bar, entry level positions that anyone with a connection (and the expected qualifications) would have a leg up in getting hired. Why is this phenomenon only suddenly suggested as some sort of problem now, for the subject matter at hand? If low-wage entry level positions economically screen out too many promising candidates, champion increased pay for the sake of all those who are economically disadvantaged.

  14. ncfloyd says:

    January 19, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    Nepotism: Zac Collinsworth, sons of Schottenheimer, Shanahan & Belichick to name a few. Some may gain valuable experience and become very qualified but we know they got a headstart.
    ——–
    Heres the thing though it’s not nepotism its hiring the best guy for the job. Would you rather hire a guy with 18 years of experience or none? When it comes down to it those guys grew up in the business and learned when they were kids so those “entry level” jobs maybe entry level for most but when you have someone overqualified for a position why would you not hire them over the person only qualified.

  15. Still believe organizations should be free to choose who will best facilitate getting the championship, not by getting compensation or not getting compensated based on other choices or changes.

  16. When will someone finally acknowledge that promoting one race over another is a perfect example of discrimination and racism… not “equality”.

    I was engrained with the mentality to out-work any position I was placed in, and that was the best way to get promoted or noticed. Maybe I was privileged for being taught that way of thinking and applying it.

  17. jaegs0706 says:
    January 19, 2021 at 6:23 pm
    Thankfully we have PFT to point out the numerous challenges the obstacles our brothers and sister of color face. The war on systemic racism must be fought and it begins with each and every individual battle. We must stay vigilant and walk together down the path to true equality.
    ___________________________________________

    Fact is most of those that make it to the top put in long hours and study their craft long after they are off the clock(on their own time) and then there’s those that don’t want to put on the effort of long hours and putting in the extra work but still feel they deserve the position.

    HENCE some work overtime for no pay to get these positions and then there are many who just expect the position to be handed to them!

  18. Stop talking about race and start talking about characteristics that transcend race: intelligence, drive, work ethic, communication skills., leadership. Every organization is looking for the best people to hire. Period.

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