July 30, 2015 Louisville, KY (Analyzed Sports) By: Charron Elliott
The NFL’s Two Biggest Stories This Off-Season
Although the National Football League off-season has been overshadowed with a lot of negativity including the suspensions of players and “Deflate Gate” challenging the integrity of the game, the league has also made two very important moves this off-season. In April the NFL decided to hire Sarah Thomas as the first full-time NFL referee and the Arizona Cardinals are allowing Dr. Jennifer Welter to intern as a linebackers coach. Welter recently played running back for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League and she was hired to be the team’s linebacker and special teams coach. Sarah Thomas has officiated since 1996 and was hired after she took part in the NFL’s development of officiating program. However let’s take a look at the big picture for the NFL and why these two moves deserve more attention.
Does anyone remember what the main headline was during the NFL off-season last year? The name Ray Rice should ring a bell, because that’s pretty much what was discussed about the league almost every day during the NFL’s off-season. Rice had been caught on video punching his current wife Janay Palmer Rice which led to the NFL suspending him indefinitely. The actions by Rice also led to the NFL cracking down on players involved with domestic violence and launching its “No More” campaign. The NFL launched commercials of players and coaches within the league protesting against domestic violence and saying “No More” to the horrific issue. However this off-season “Deflate Gate” has been the main subject discussed about the league when it shouldn’t be. Instead what should be discussed and maybe even applauded about the NFL is how it has slowly started to allow women to have a bigger role in a sport that many feel women shouldn’t.
Of course there are still people out there who are blind to the fact that women make up nearly 50% of the fan base and on average nearly 375,000 women are attending an NFL game each week according to the NFL. What does this mean exactly, it means that the hiring of women as officials or coaches could cause even more women to become supporters of the NFL. Although Jennifer Welter is only an intern with the Arizona Cardinals for now, she may open the door for a woman to be hired full-time on an NFL coaching staff. As for Sarah Thomas, she has made her mark already on the NFL becoming the first full-time female official hired by the league.
Of course there’s always the pondering question of if NFL players would be willing to accept a female leading/coaching their team and while that has yet to be determined this off-season has been better overall for women who follow the NFL than last year. The league goes from constantly discussing about how to cope with domestic violence issues to hiring a female official full-time and having a female intern as an assistant coach. What a difference a year makes for the NFL!
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