Take a moment to let it all sink in — history is being made. In what is believed to be an NFL first, Jen Welter has been appointed the first female coach in the National Football League.
The Arizona Cardinals are the lucky team to have Welter on their roster. The Cardinals are already known for supporting diversity behind the scenes: Two-year coach Bruce Arians has hired assistants ranging from their 20s to their late 70s. This year, the first female coach in NFL history will add to this inclusive lineup — Welter will join six other coaching interns to work with the Cardinals over the summer.
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Despite her potential “disadvantage” as a woman, Welter is more qualified than many men for her position. Welter was the first woman to play a non-kicking position in a men’s professional football league, say the Cardinals, when she played running back and special teams for the Indoor Football League’s Texas Revolution in February 2014. In February, she became the first female coach in a men’s pro football league when working with linebackers and special teams for the Revolution.
On behalf of sports-loving women everywhere, thank God for Jen Welter. It’s no secret there is some major sexism in the sports industry. It’s even harder to turn a blind eye to the violence perpetuated by many NFL players against women. If you take a closer look at the response to Welter’s promotion, you’ll see why.
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Whether trolling or just making a joke (an unfunny joke at that), the public can’t seem to handle that a woman is making NFL history. Welter has been called a “woman who wishes she was a man” by some, while other commenters cry, “What does a woman know about football?”
It gets worse. Much worse. Welter has fans; there’s no doubt about that. But there’s also a large group of football fans who believe that women belong in the kitchen — that is to say, women in the NFL belong on the sidelines as cheerleaders. These NFL cheerleaders, as beautiful and successful as they may be, are put in a box and considered by many to be decoration and entertainment. The unwritten rule is that these hard-working women don’t have what it takes to do anything other than shake it for the men who are playing the game.
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We’ll say it again: Thank God for Jen Welter. Her simple career move is causing controversy because it’s creating change. And if you take a closer look at the NFL and the sexism in sports culture, you’ll see how very badly this change is needed. It’s taken too long for a woman to hold a coaching position in the NFL, and it’s because there is still so much resistance. Welter needs our support so she won’t be the last female coach in NFL history.
Check out her awesome take on women in sports:
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