The Fritz Pollard Alliance, the Rooney Rule, and the Quest to Level the Playing Field in the National Football League
Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 7, Spring 2008
16 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2008 Last revised: 26 Mar 2008
The National Football League (the NFL or the League), like the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Major League Baseball (MLB), has a long history of racial exclusion. And like these other long-standing American professional sport leagues, desegregation among players preceded desegregation among coaches. As slowly increasing numbers of minorities assumed NBA head coaching positions and MLB managing positions toward the end of the twentieth century, however, minority NFL coaches were less likely to receive head coaching opportunities than their basketball and baseball counterparts. Indeed, as of 2002, only two minorities held head coaching positions in the thirty-two team NFL, and only five, including those two, had held head coaching positions during the League's modern era. Four years later, however, the NFL had more than tripled its number of minority head coaches and shone as a model for other athletic institutions seeking to provide head coaching candidates equal employment opportunity. This article seeks to explore the history of racial exclusion in the NFL, the particular barriers minority coaches seeking NFL head coaching positions have faced, and the effort to level the playing field for such coaches.
Keywords: sports, sport, employment, football, equality, coach, discrimination, race, racism, black african-american, african american, black, color
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation