For all the complaining I do about the NFL, whether it’s their mishandling of domestic violence cases, their outdated drug policies, or their handling of player concussions, the League did something really cool last week that made me think there’s hope for them yet.
The first-ever Women’s Career in Football Forum was held in Orlando, Florida.
Coinciding with Pro Bowl Week, this program, to help educate and prepare women for positions in football operations, was a huge step for women in the sport.
“We are actively expanding opportunities for women by identifying and developing qualified individuals as part of the NFL’s inclusion efforts,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. “Hosting these events at Pro Bowl provides us the chance to celebrate women who play the game and to assist them by providing knowledge, tools and resources to pursue careers in the sport of professional football.”
High-ranking-front-office women took part in the forum to discuss their jobs and how they got them.
The forum provided participants with the opportunity to learn about positions in football operation and administration from NFL executives, coaches, game official and industry experts.
There are many aspects of the game that don’t involve playing or coaching and the forum provided attendees a chance to investigate these areas.
For example, NFL’s chief information officer Michelle McKenna-Doyle instituted a new communications systems league-wide this season after numerous complaints and accusations by visiting teams regarding faulty systems that didn’t allow coordinators to communicate with their players. She is currently working on an idea to microchip footballs to eliminate the need for sideline chains.
The career forum was held in conjunction with the 2017 Women’s World Football Games, a weeklong event that brought together more than 250 female tackle football players from around the world for five days of training, skills sessions and 11-on-11 competitions.
Its goal is to teach the sport of American Football to any female in the world who wants to improve her skills and become a better, safer football player.
(What, you didn’t know women played football?)
I will hand it to the NFL. With Commissioner Roger Goodell expanding The Rooney Rule last year, and now the first-ever Women’s Career in Football Forum, maybe the League truly is committed to diversity and inclusion.
Time will tell.