If you’re female and a football fan, there’s more to cheer about.
From the sidelines, to the broadcast booth, to the front office — women are finally making consecutive strides. We celebrated the appointment of Sam Rapoport as the new Director of Football Development late last year, and then we rode that momentum into the Women’s Career Development Symposium held last March just before the NFL owners’ meetings in Boca Raton, Florida.
Fortunately, this symposium was not a rah-rah session, but a concrete convention that focused on the education and development of essential careers for women, including exploration of roles in operations, scouting and coaching.
Women’s NFL Career Development Symposium
While this grand gesture by the organization is welcome, the NFL has not assumed the mantle of a philanthropic, gender-equality-focused organization. The NFL is a business. One that has taken a long look at its fan base and demographics. Female viewership of games rose 26% from 2009 to 2013 alone, while there was only an 18% increase among men. More fans, more money.
With the consideration of women and minorities as viable sources of employees, it is key that the younger generation of football fans need never face the barriers tackled by their predecessors.
Is Football the Final Frontier?
Will the acceptance of women on the field and in the front office be the ultimate success? No. (The across-industry equal pay for equal work matter still looms as an obstacle.) This inclusion does however serve as a symbolic beacon, making the statement: “We did that, so we can do this now.”
One day soon, perhaps a discussion about trying to break into the NFL (or any other traditionally male-dominated industry) will be moot. Instead, there will exist positions requiring passion for the role and distinctive talent to qualify. They will just be jobs. Not victories.
The Life of Riley
We recently had the opportunity to speak with an avid football fan. As fascinated as we were by a 12-year-old who possessed such depth of insight into a complex game, our questions to Riley were met with ease. She loves the sport. Period. She’s not a girl who loves sports. Riley is a football fan. She personifies the purpose of the Sam Rapoports of the world.
Riley’s initial introduction to the sport was mostly through family and by going to games. But football became a little more intriguing when discussions at school turned to trade talks.
A classmate’s obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles and the intense conversations surrounding football by a group of boys in her grade piqued her interest. Professing to be “kind of nosy” she connected with their conversations. Riley’s natural curiosity about people and the exuberance of their analyses, made the subject more compelling. She learned even more.
Riley is especially eloquent when it comes to commenting on an organization’s draft picks, shows an encyclopedic knowledge of statistics, and is particularly good at predicting the victor of most games.
Girl Power 3.0
Riley’s interest in football does not define her. She is a person with a passion for the most exciting spectator sport on the planet…who also knows more facts and figures than most.
An accomplished equestrian, Riley has established a reputation as an excellent Hunter Jumper, with an uncanny ability to assimilate layouts in practice and then successfully execute the jumps. Riley also plays piano and loves animals. One day she will be an exceptional veterinarian.
Riley represents the very best of her generation. When you talk with someone like her, you can feel how bright the future.
She is the reason these women are doing what they do, so every Riley can make any choice. The only hurdles will be self-limiting ones, not ones imposed by the NFL or society.
Like Riley, all you will need, is to believe you can fly.