Posts Tagged ‘Rooney Rule’

The big hubbub this weekend in So Cal for sports fans was news of USC’s head coach, Pete Carroll, retiring from the Trojans and returning to the NFL to coach for the Seattle Seahawks.  From 2000-2009 Carroll has overseen an (until this season) utterly dominant SC football team that has won two national championships and seven Pac-10 titles.  But the oft-mentioned, and sweepingly arbitrary side note, that intrigues me most has to do with what is known as the Rooney Rule in the NFL.  The Rule requires that NFL teams must (with very few exceptions) interview a minority candidate for any head coaching vacancy before it can hire anyone.  Articles discussing Carroll’s hire often include the tidbit:

Carroll was expected to be introduced by the Seahawks as early as Monday, after the team interviewed Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Saturday morning.  According to the sources, Frazier met with the Seahawks in Minneapolis, satisfying the Rooney Rule…

Even though Frazier was being interviewed, I’m sure that he knew he was not seriously being considered and was only participating in a public sideshow.  Which brings me to my point in this post.  What is the point of the Rooney Rule?  It seems to me that if a team wants to hire a coach, who happens to be a minority, then they will.  And if they don’t want to, then they will find some candidate that is willing to sit down for a moment solely so the team can satisfy a rule.  What’s the benefit to the minority coach?  Head Coach interviewing experience?  A free flight and dinner in whatever city the team is located in?

Hi, I'm here for the head coaching position.

Hi, I'm here to satisfy the Rooney Rule.

Or is the idea that some team that is planning on hiring a white coach, after being forced to meet with a minority, will be blown away by their resume and accomplishments that they had heretofore ignored and suddenly hire them instead of the white coach?  Isn’t that what is being assumed by creating a rule such as this?  This is simply another version of affirmative action, and just like other forms is designed to pander rather then promote.  A strict, though some may say naive, understanding of business states that the best candidates will be hired – gender, race, orientation, etc. be damned.  An NFL team is in the business of winning games in order to make money.  If teams refuse to hire more capable minority coaches then they will lose games to teams that do, and will lose money, sponsors, and players until they change philosophy or are forced to sell the team.

As I admitted, this is not a popular view of business, and one that many may believe in more in theory than practice.  And I am one of those people.  I have seen inferior employees hired over better ones many times, with the results not always being disaster for the company.  But also usually with the better qualified candidate ending up with a good job somewhere else.  Rarely, if ever, is there only one option for work… and this applies to minority coaches as well.  But the theory of business functions the same as the theory of affirmative action… neither are perfect solutions.  However, one dispenses with silly sideshows that are meant for populist puppetry, while the other allows for the marketplace to decide the results.  Just ask the Indianapolis Colts.

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