The League

Derede McAlpin
Crisis Litigator

Derede McAlpin

Vice President Levick Strategic Communications

Diversity, a progress at work

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Daniel Snyder recently announced Bruce Allen, son of legendary Redskins coach George Allen, as the Redskin's new executive vice president and general manager. The transfer of power from Vinny Cerrato, who worked for the Redskins since 1999, to Allen was a dramatic change for the Redskins. The move also triggered the highly debated Rooney Rule, a policy spearheaded by Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney to encourage an inclusive hiring process in the NFL.

According to news reports, when the issue of the Rooney Rule was raised with the Redskins, Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed the team's compliance with the rule. He offered in a statement, "The Redskins have been in contact with our office throughout the process and have followed the proper procedures of the Rooney Rule."

It's a shame that the Rooney Rule had to be implemented in the first place. But the sad truth is the number of minority coaches in the NFL prior to its implementation was dismal. Diversity among coaches and GMs in the NFL, or the lack there of, shed light on possible discrepancies in the NFL's hiring process.

Whether you believe in the system or not, the lack of representation of minorities -of all colors- in high level positions in the league and the NCAA speaks volumes on several levels.

It demonstrates that highly debated topics involving race are still alive in America. Generations after the end of legal discrimination, race still ignites heated debates. As quiet as it is kept, despite having a black president and an increasingly global market place, we still live in an era of deeply polarized views on diversity.

There exists a belief that sports is a true meritocracy where anyone with a proven ability and the right qualifications will succeed. The truth is other intangible factors greatly influence the opportunities that may come someone's way.

Problems can be attributed to a lack of sincere commitment from leadership, a failure to make thorough assessments and a penchant for measuring success as if they were counting crayons in a box. It must be said, for true success in diversity, results must be measured by qualitative as well as quantitative indices.

For diversity initiatives to really succeed in the NFL and NCAA, a system must be in place to make sure underrepresented groups are not disproportionately excluded from opportunities. Whether by way of the Rooney Rule or good faith efforts by leadership, qualified candidates should have an opportunity to play on even ground.

Like views on religion, there will never be a consensus on diversity issues in America. But at the end of the day, we all want the same thing - to play to win.

By Derede McAlpin  |  December 18, 2009; 11:48 AM ET  | Category:  Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Should I assume that the writer includes Hispanics, Asians, American Indians (of various tribes), women, and other groups that have not traditionally been involved in management as well as coaching positions?

What would be best, rather than "diversity" is the choosing of the person qualified person or the person with the best potential, or consideration of a person with demonstrated qualifications (even if not always winning results), and bypass the "we need to talk to 'one of those' ".

Posted by: Dungarees | December 18, 2009 12:54 PM

perhaps we should hire an african rugby community organizer. yea, let's do that. that will draw fans from anacostia. hey! what about marion barry? He knows how to get the best out of a bad situation.

Posted by: g0tcha | December 18, 2009 1:31 PM

For those who may not fully grasp the issue, there are many minorities who have participated and contributed in the NFL on various levels who are never even considered when it comes to management. Please ask yourselves how the Allens of the world got their 1st consideration. Probably not by accomplishments, but by referals thru the longstanding GOB network. Undersatndably, and equally unfortunately, there are still too many people who beleive that the only truly qualified and capable individuals for positions of NFL management are non-minorities. This is reflected in sports, politics, business, and any other walk of life that you may wish to discuss...of course until a Dungy, Tomlison, Colin Powell, or Barak Obama emerges and proves otherwise. The Redskins organization already have more than enough issues when it comes to racial issues. At the very least, they should acknowlege the Rooney Rule even if Allen is their clear choice.

Posted by: vze3c9qt | December 18, 2009 1:58 PM

What are you talking about lady. 22% of the coaches are minorities. Thats 10-11% more than the percentage of Blacks in the U.S. WAAA WAAA WAAA

Posted by: reidlockwood101 | December 18, 2009 2:18 PM

The fact that the Rooney Rule needed to be put in place in 2003 is a sad reflection on the football community. That said, 2 of the last 3 super bowls have been won by minority head coaches, neither of whom were selected for an interview as a result of the rule. While it may have had more of an impact in hiring for other positions, the increase in the number of minority head coaches is most probably a result of quality coaches earning an opportunity, rather than a requirement that teams merely interview any minority applicant.

For the Rooney Rule to be effective, the NFL needs to require teams to interview minority candidates from outside their organization. Bringing in a guy that you already know to have an interview just so you meet a requirement is a joke. Forcing the leadership to reach out to people outside their organization would create an opportunity for a candidate to impress someone who they may not already know well.

Its a tremendous disappointment to see a prominent owner undermine the spirit of the rule. But one must question whether the rule is appropriate in the modern era to begin with. I believe we'll continue to see the coaching and administrative ranks of the NFL become increasingly diverse. Not because of the Rooney rule, but because the NFL is slowly transitioning to a younger generation of leadership. That new generation was too young to remember the civil rights movement. They've been raised to embrace diversity. They hear their grandparents use terms like "coloreds" and they wince in embarrassment.

To me, the Rooney Rule was a wonderful idea, and well intentioned. It was just 3 decades too late to really have an impact.

Posted by: RockRed26 | December 18, 2009 3:19 PM

The Rooney Rule should be abolished. Blacks form 22% of upper management/coaches in the NFL yet are 10-12% of the general population.
Therefore the NFL is integrated and the affirmative action inherent in the Rooney Rule is meaningless.

Posted by: joy5 | December 19, 2009 9:10 PM

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