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Overfield: What is Holding Women Back From Coaching Male Sports?

Curtis Lin
University of Utah Softball team celebrate after a homer by sophomore infielder Ryley Ball (9) during an NCAA Softball game vs the BYU Cougars at Dumke Family Softball Stadium in Salt Lake City, UT on Wednesday April 18, 2018. (Photo by Curtis Lin | Daily Utah Chronicle)


When we watch our favorite sports on television, whether it’s the Utah Jazz in the NBA, the San Francisco Giants in the MLB or the Pittsburgh Steelers from the NFL, there is one commonality between all of these games — there are no females present on the field or on the sidelines.  

Although there has recently been a big push to get females into professional coaching positions, the movement has not been successful enough to see major change.  

We can see faces such as Becky Hammon coaching with the San Antonio Spurs, Nancy Lieberman broadcasting with the New Orleans Pelicans, Kathryn Smith coaching with the Buffalo Bills and finally, Sarah Thomas, who is the first full-time female NFL referee.

These are just some of the women who are breaking down boundaries in men’s sports and they are paving the way for the next generation of females in sports.

Why do we see so few women coaching men’s sports, yet so many men coaching women’s sports?

University of Utah head coach Beth Launiere talks with sophomore outside hitter Dani Drews (1) before the next point in an NCAA Volleyball match vs. the UCLA Bruins at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. (Photo by Kiffer Creveling | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

Here at the University of Utah, we are home to 18 Division I Pac-12 conference teams. Of those 18, 11 are women’s teams while only seven are men’s teams. When you look on the rosters, only five of the teams have women in the head coach position.  

Men hold either a head or assistant coaching position on every team at the U, and they are present throughout the coaching rosters as well. Women, on the other hand, are only on the rosters of women’s sports save for the operations and marketing manager on the baseball team and the students for the ski team (which is men’s and women’s combined).

It seems fascinating to me that men are allowed to coach women’s sports for a number of reasons. The biggest concern to me is that female and male body types are different and they sometimes require different coaching styles. Women know the female body better and women who have played the sport that they are coaching have the knowledge and tools to bring other women to success.

Men, however, do not have direct experience practicing and playing in women’s athletics, and, therefore, they technically should be put in the same category. If this is the way that we are hiring coaches, then the pool would not be as large, because not all former players are interested in coaching after their careers end.

This argument can be flipped the other way to address women coaching men’s sports, and while it is true that women have never played football or men’s basketball, you do not see women present in any form on men’s coaching rosters.

I am not looking for women to suddenly become head coaches of women’s teams. I feel as if the balance is uneven and sometimes unfair when a women’s team is being led by an all-male coaching staff.  I think that women are discredited in the world of sports because female sports are seen as soft and “easier” than men’s sports. In most cases, however, women are working harder than men to get where they are because they are held to a higher standard.

There are women who are just as dedicated to their sports as men are, and although they have to fight more to be heard, they are opening up the sports world to be more accepting of them. I think that it is interesting to look through the differences in coaching styles in men and women and see how that affects kids growing up.

When I played sports growing up, I had a good mix of both male and female coaches in my sports. I think that I have fonder memories of my male coaches. However, I was always pushed harder by my female coaches. I think that the women that coached my teams carried more credibility in my mind, and they were the ones that were invested and dedicated to the game. I think that it is important for all kids growing up to be coached under both men and women because you learn different things from everyone. I have taken away something from each of my coaches and my male coaches never took away from my knowledge of the game in the same way that my female coaches never made me a “soft” player.  

It is time for the sports world to become more accepting of women and the knowledge that they bring to the table whether it is through playing, coaching or even just viewing. Women are just as capable and knowledgeable in sports as men are, and now is the time to let the world know.  

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About the Contributor
Casey Overfield
Casey Overfield, Sports Editor
Casey Overfield is the sports editor.

Comments (4)

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  • J

    JeffFeb 3, 2020 at 8:52 am

    I feel like your angle is one sides and bias towards women. Your argument is the same as mine though. Women should not be coaching men and like wise men should not be coaching women and that is because of the fact the specifics of the sport are different and to put a gender in a leadership role that they have never experienced is just wrong. Surely I could coach a team right? I mean I watch sports every day on TV…no I cannot. Giving women these assistant minute roles and praising them as if they actually are a contributor is a complete lie and a joke. I’m all for equality but when it’s pushed into effect unearned I’m sorry but that is what you call not genuine. It only takes away from the cause and the hope. If you dream of women excelling in professional sports then maybe they should excel in there own sports first, rating and interest in the women’s games are not only ignored by most men sports fans but with women sports fans too. They are seen as inferior and let’s be honest, the women’s product is just that.

  • R

    RandallApr 16, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    We should just get rid of men all together. Have women play and coach the men’s sports. Let’s continue the attack on men! Especially the white ones and the straight ones. They don’t have a chance!

  • M

    MBMAApr 16, 2019 at 4:51 pm


    It’s flawed logic to assert that a disparity between men and women is evidence of inequity. Inequality in measure requires a cause, and you cannot assert that the cause of the inequality is inequity because of the existence of the inequality – this is called circular reasoning, and this is what underlies your entire position here.

    You assert the following:
    – It is sometimes unfair when a women’s team is led by a male coach
    – Women are discredited in the world of sports, specifically because female sports are seen as softer and easier
    – Women are, in most cases, working harder than man because they are held to a higher standard
    All without citations – how do you know these things without data? Why should anyone listen to your argument without proof? I don’t know you, but I tend to assume that most people are not ideologically informed – but your article comes across that way because of this because you write with certainty about your unsourced, unproven, taken for granted positions – perhaps a more skeptical view is warranted if you don’t have source? Also, anecdotes are useful in writing as a source of authenticity, but not as a source of evidence or proof for a larger phenomenon.

    To the actual issue at hand – men leading women’s sports team. The best coach should be in that position, regardless of gender. If all the best coaches were women, then all the coaching jobs should go to women. If the reverse is true, then all the coaching jobs should go to men. Anything else would put the team’s success in jeopardy. There is likely a dozen or more reasons why men go in to coaching more often, and maybe one of them is some form of sexism in favor of men or against women – but I doubt it’s the driving force. The issue this creates for you, is that this would preclude you or anyone else making arguments about gender as the driving motivator or major factor, and instead you would have to make arguments about individual coaches being unfit for their position either due to being inept, or there being a better option. This is harder, but it’s more honest.

    All the best!

  • H

    Hershel Lieberman BergblattsteinApr 16, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    If a woman were to coach a men’s sports, she’d come off like that nagging aunt no one likes seeing. The one who always tells you how much better her kids are than you.