OPINION: Bills hire first full-time female coach
India Kirssin | Staff Writer
It’s about time.
On January 20, the Buffalo Bills named Kathryn Smith its quality-control special teams coach, making her the first woman in the National Football League to hold a full-time coaching position.
Smith was an administrative assistant this past season and worked as a player personnel assistant before that. Her hiring comes less than a year after the Arizona Cardinals hired Jen Welter as their training-camp assistant coach (not full time). It also comes less than a year after the NFL hired Sarah Thomas, making her the first full-time female official in NFL history.
With all of the female firsts in the past year in the NFL my only question is: Why didn’t it happen sooner?
The Washington Post said, “Women make up an estimated 45 percent of the NFL’s more than 150 million American fans.” Women are also considered the NFL’s most important demographic and its biggest opportunity for growth.
A female coach, like Smith, on the sidelines represents almost half of the NFL’s fan base whose representation up to this point has been little to none. This is a huge asset for teams looking to reach out to more people and grow. A female coach will also help give the NFL and its teams perspective, guidance and respect when dealing with the continuing domestic abuse problems within the sport.
Even more important than economic and public image value, female coaches like Smith will bring knowledgeable coaching value to the field. Smith wouldn’t have gotten the job if she didn’t know what she was talking about. Her presence on the field will be a breath of fresh air for the male-dominated sport.
I support Kathryn Smith and the Bills, but I also challenge other NFL teams to continue the progress made this past year. Give women a chance to prove themselves. We know what we are doing.