The Perception of “Coach”

The Perception of “Coach”

by Jennifer Gelhaus, USPTA and Director of Tennis

In our sports-hungry culture, we watch the NHL, MLB, NFL, the ATP. Finally, we are receiving coverage of the WNBA more often and watching the LPGA and the WTA. In this age of inclusion and diversity, women’s sports are, perhaps, finally gaining some ground in terms of public viewing on a national television basis. But our perception of “coach” isn’t changing one bit, according to a professor of sport management.

Fomer college student-athlete and now world acclaimed professor, Dr. B Nalani Butler, Ph.D. joins the BTB Podcast.

Dr. B. Nalani Butler, Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Kennesaw University, joins host Jennifer Gelhaus on the Beyond The Baselines Podcast to discuss how from childhood we view “coach” as a man. The movies and television shows – we think of “Coach” as a male and that perpetuates the idea that coaching is typically a male activity.

Butler borrows her experience from playing sport herself and has compiled research and studied with some of the most revered names in the field. “You see men coaching both men’s and women’s sports,” but you rarely see a woman coaching a men’s sport. “Ideologies about coaching in our culture,” is that a coach should be a male figure.

Dr Butler points to Title IX and remarks that it is uniquely American and similar legislation does not truly exist anywhere else in the world. And, although passed as federal law in the 1970s, it wasn’t truly enforced until the mid 1980s. Pat Summit was one of the champions of the legislation. Butler points out that she and her podcast host, Jennifer, were really just the second wave of Title IX athletes – “I couldn’t find women’s cleats or jerseys at the time,” says Butler. “Mia Hamm still roles up her sleeves,” something Butler believes is a habitual leftover from a time when it was only men’s jerseys for women players, a time not so long ago.

Butler, a former NCAA athlete, has more recently co-authored the fourth edition of Social Issues in Sport, a textbook which introduces students to the study of sport as a social phenomenon. The book explores current trends in sport and examines complex connections between sport and politics, economics, religion, race, gender, youth and more.

Having worked with professional teams such as Cincinnati Reds to the International Olympic Academy’s International Session for Educators, Butler is well-versed to discuss the mistakes we, as a society, make when trying to diversify sport in an age of inclusion. Join her on the BTB podcast today and find out why the Coach, even in the TV sitcom Cheers, always seems to be a man in our mind’s eye.

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