The Rooney Rule, named after Pittsburgh Steelers’ owner, Dan Rooney, is a rule which requires every National Football League (NFL) team to interview at least one minority candidate for the Head Coach position once there is a vacancy. This was a huge leap in the fight for diversity and equality in American professional sport.
Before The Rooney Rule there were just six Black NFL Head Coaches in more than 80 years of the League, despite the fact that 65% of players were African Americans. Despite arguments from some members of the community that The Rooney Rule is an example of positive discrimination and gives an unfair advantage to minority groups – this stat truly proves that there was a desperate need to fill the gaping hole and to give opportunity to those who are underrepresented in society.
The English Football League is stuck in the past when it comes to race. There have been very few Black managers within the 92 teams over decades of playing, and this doesn’t seem to be improving. In English clubs, where 25% of players are Black or from ethnic minorities, there should be a greater representation in management and senior coaching. Gordon Taylor, the Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, has stated that there is a “hidden resistance” preventing Black managers from getting jobs. Whether you call it a “hidden resistance” or “institutional racism”, I leave that up to you. What makes it even more absurd is that we continually see the same managers being hired and fired almost like a merry-go-round – there is very little new blood in this industry, and seemingly no opportunity for ethnic minorities to get a foot in the door.
The question is quite controversial: Is the Premiership ready for The Rooney Rule? Should owners be forced to interview qualified candidates from minority backgrounds? History has proved time and time again that diversity breeds success. The more difference in experience and perspective you can throw into the mix, the more likely you are to get a positive and successful outcome. Isn’t it time that management and coaching systems more accurately reflected the needs of their players, rather than repeatedly hiring mediocre managers who consistently churn out stagnant, uninspiring results? The UK is always campaigning to “kick racism out of football” – to do this, they really need to be starting from the top.