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Coach W -

Why some female coaches aren’t taken seriously and why I agree that they shouldn’t be…

I recently came across an image of a female coach on twitter with a derogatory comment attached to it…and unfortunately, I hate to say that I agree with the comment. ?The twitter account shall remain nameless, but here is the image and comment:

dont take female coaches seriously

 

 

 

“This is a pic of D2 college track coach from yesterday. Also why some ppl don’t take female coaches seriously.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

My initial reaction was ‘here we go again, another negative comment about a woman coach’…and then I thought about it a little more…

It is a coaches prerogative what to wear on training or competition day, a smart suit, or a tracksuit. ?You see it all the time in men’s football for example, some male coaches wear suits and some where tracksuits. ?I prefer to look my best in a tracksuit, but thats only because thats what I like to wear to feel ‘prepared’ and as it is a sporting arena I will be spending the day in, a tracksuit seems most appropriate. ?I can run if needed, grab some equipment or sit there for hours on end watching the track action; I have no real opinion on other peoples choices, but surely, practicality and professionalism should be the deciding factor?

Anyway, my issue with the above image isn’t that the coach is wearing a suit (although how you move about freely in a smart suit at a track meet I will never know), it is the use of the shoes…and yes, I agree with the comment which states she won’t be taken seriously.

There are so many thoughts going round my head with this…one of them being the image she is portraying and the other is how can she coach wearing that?

As a coach, you are always on show – especially on competitions day. ?You are being watched by players/ athletes, fans, parents and some times the media…everyone is watching you performing and making decisions that could change the outcome of the game / race etc. ?You should be setting a very high standard of professionalism as you are representing your athletes or team. ?A coach in a smart tracksuit sets a very different example to a coach in a fitted suit with high heels.

Put it this way…if you have two female coaches, one walking round in a nice new matching adidas tracksuit, clean trainers with a whistle round their neck and the other stumbling round in high heels with an immovable stiff suit on…who would you send your kids too? ?Who would you approach to ask advice too? Who would you take more seriously?

In my opinion, image is everything. ?You could be the most knowledgeable coach on planet Earth (male or female), but if you don’t look like a professional coach, you want progress in your career. ?Yes of course you can have professional looking coaches that are terrible coaches, but my point it that you are representing your team or athletes and you are representing who you are as a coach…so you can’t expect people to talk you seriously if you dress inappropriately.

I would be really interested to learn everyone else opinions on this one and to ask what you all wear for match day.

 

 

  1. Ute Scholl

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    A priceless picture! A coach should be dressed for the occasion in my opinion. How can she coach in that outfit. For match day I always wear a smart track suit and when needed my protective gear as: I have to warm the athletes up; I have to fetch and repair equipment on a short notice.

  2. Diane H

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    In general I like this site and the premise, in particular I am just this side of disgusted with this article. Image is NOT everything, if it was only those deemed by society to be visually acceptable would ever amount to anything. For any coach, male or female to judge another coach’s ability by what she wears in a coaching situation is uncalled for and unfair. The entire article is sexist in nature because it allows for a man to wear a suit and be effective, but not a woman. And to narrow it down to the coach’s choice of footwear is additionally insulting. I am a woman and have several years of coaching experience, while my choice would not be a suit and heels – since that is not my aesthetic on any day – I certainly would not judge a competing coach by her choice of wardrobe. I know that the clothes I choose to wear have nothing to do with my ability to coach and would certainly expect that to be the same for any other coach.

    Put it this way.. if I saw two coaches, one turned out in a suit and heels and one turned out in a smart track suit I would send my kid to the one who I had vetted and not judged by the clothes they wore. I would not assume from a picture that the coach wearing heels is “stumbling around” or unable to move in a “stiff suit”. Nor would I assume that just because a coach showed up in a tracksuit that they were any better prepared to lead their squad. What I would assume is that each wore what made her feel the best to do her job and that each was confident in her abilities..and her appearance. I would not judge another woman, as so many of my male colleagues would, on appearance alone. I would afford her the same respect as I would want, regardless of what I was wearing.

    So, while I respect everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I would ask that you reconsider yours, Coach W. Female coaches get guff from so many sectors that getting it from their own based solely on appearance is disheartening. Instead of calling out a coach because of her choice of wardrobe, how about we celebrate and support her confidence to do her job, dressed as she sees fit and quash some of the unfair expectations that society puts on her.

  3. Coach L

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    My reaction to this photo and comment was the same as yours. First of all, let?s be clear that a coach?s wardrobe choice doesn?t make her any less of a coach, but I agree with you when you say that you can?t expect people to take you seriously if you are dressed inappropriately. It was pointed out that this was a track coach. I?ve been to track meets and I?ve seen what track coaches wear. I?ve seen how they run around, like you said, and I know that meets can go on for half a day. I?ve seen track coaches demonstrate technique to their athletes (track isn?t just running you know, it?s also jumping). Imaging this coach working with an athlete and trying to demonstrate something in those shoes. In my opinion, leggings with high heels just seems like a strange choice of outfit for a track meet. This also goes along with the comment from the picture that ?some people? don?t take female coaches seriously. It doesn?t say all people. It just seems like they are pointing out a poor choice of outfit rather than a sexist attack. And I agree that ?some people? would not take her seriously. I think for a different sport, the outfit would be acceptable. You see professional basketball coaches wearing heels all the time. But the surface is a hardwood floor and they don?t have to move very much. At my school, they don?t allow soccer players to walk on the track with their cleats on so who knows, maybe the comment was about a total disregard for protecting the surface of the track. I personally wouldn?t wear heels because I find them uncomfortable for any length of time. I coach college age women. I once wore a skirt to a game and was shocked by the comments from some of my athletes. Most of them didn?t like it and said they liked me in pants better. But you know what, they were right. When I bent down, I was worried about showing too much skin. I worried about the wind blowing it up a little too much. It distracted me from doing my job to be honest and I didn?t wear one again. I also had an experience where an opposing male coach was often rude to me. A bystander once made a comment to me to the effect of ?well maybe if he saw how you looked in makeup and a dress he wouldn?t be so rude?. We live in a world where sexism is ever present in the workplace and especially the sporting arena. And believe me, if there is anything that I can do to control my image and how seriously people take me, then I am going to do it. And for me that means dressing in a professional way that doesn?t distract me from the job I am doing.

  4. Coach W

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    Hi everyone,
    I just wanted to say thank you for all of your feedback and to apologise if I caused any offence. This blog wasn’t about the coach being female and it certainly wasn’t meant to come across as sexist. The point I was trying to make was that to me the whole outfit seemed inappropriate. As a track coach myself (of runners and jumpers!) I just think it’s impossible to wear anything other than a tracksuit to perform your role properly.
    I too have come straight from work to coach, so I know what that situation can be like. If men traditionally wore heels, I would have commented on that too.

    Apologies once again if I caused offence.

    Kindest regards,

    Coach W

  5. KE

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    I agree that there is a level of professionalism that should be maintained and appearance is relevant whether we like it or not, for all coaches and sports. I am not a tracksuit kind of person. When I coach games, nice pants, pressed coaching shirt and appropriate shoes for the deck are my choice. On rare occasion I have had to coach in heels and a suit as I had to go to a game straight from a business meeting. A coaches professional appearance is relevant and I appreciate the post, I also agree that we have no idea what the background is on this coaches choice of attire. I do have to pose the question that if a man showed up in a suit and tie to coach vs the track suit, would he get the same flack? Maybe, maybe not. Like others here, I ultimately hope we are judged on our ability to coach, our results, and our connections with our athletes and community.

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