Women Coaches in Sports
Sports have been male-dominated for centuries. For example, the Olympics, while open to men since 776 B.C, only allowed women to start competing in the 20th century. So, it’s great to see the increase in women athletes, both professional and amateur. This increase can be traced back to the passage of Title IX in 1972. Title IX is a federal law that was passed to ban gender discrimination in school sports and led to a sharp growth in the number of female athletes in the U.S.
However, an unintended consequence of this law was the decrease in the number of women coaches. According to a study by the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports at the University of Minnesota, the number of female coaches training NCAA women’s teams dropped from 90% in 1972 to 43.4% in the 2021-2022 school year. This decline was due to the fact that after Title IX was passed, male coaches finally started to see the value in coaching women, and if this is the reasoning behind such a massive reduction of female coaches, what does this say about our society? We must confront the fact that male coaches can begin to dominate an industry previously overpowered by women because male coaches deemed the job legitimate.
Contrary to popular belief, the inequality in number of male and female coaches does not come from a disparity of skill. A study published by The Sport Journal in 2020 featured researchers who experimented using a novel-video based method to dissect how genders in athletes and coaches influence each other. In this study, female coaches were rated consistently higher than male coaches in the aspects of relationship quality, which include closeness, commitment, and complementarity. Relationship quality is very important in coaching, because if a coach can not form a sufficient relationship with the athlete in training, it will be harder for the athlete to draw as much as he or she should from the coaching.
The number of women coaches in sports is only just beginning to grow this century, with 43.4% of all NCAA women’s teams being coached by women in 2021-2022, the fourth year in a row to see a percentage increase. With such a low number of women coaches, it is a source of great pride for Edgemont that they have so many female coaches active across all sports. The current varsity girls tennis coach, Alexa Goldberg, has just finished her second season with the girls team after guiding them to the sectional finals in the 2021-2022 season. When she played tennis for Edgemont under the guidance of coach Jim San Marco in 2014, she won the State Championship her senior year. She then went on to play at Skidmore, a top 15 college for tennis. After graduating, she earned a Masters degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education while pursuing coaching full time.
“I became a coach because as a young female, I always felt I needed a woman role model when I was playing and I want to be that for my players."
When asked her reasoning behind the decision to coach, Goldberg answered, “I became a coach because as a young female, I always felt I needed a woman role model when I was playing and I want to be that for my players. I can relate to what the girls are going through both on and off the court and I feel it really makes a difference and builds a special bond and connection.” If you venture to the tennis courts, there are usually two signs on the fence which hold the team slogans Goldberg surprises the athletes with each year. This year’s slogan was “A.C.E,” standing for “Attitude,” “Commitment,” and “Energy.” Coach Goldberg takes a very hands-on approach to coaching, often building relationships with the tennis players she trains off-court, a helpful approach in a sports industry where so many athletes suffer from burnout.
Women coaches are valuable, and the increase of them may lead to a downsizing in the misogynistic sports fans that can be found in nearly every sport. Hopefully, the prevalence of female coaches will begin to grow everywhere, even in industries like the NFL, an enterprise completely dominated by men – which might offer a different perspective on women in general. There is a stereotype that women are not tough enough to coach sports at a high level, but this stereotype is false. The increase of women coaches is needed to help eliminate such gross misconceptions.