The NFL is the biggest sports league in the World. Renowned for its huge teams of huge aggressive and athletic male athletes, along with the aggressive, loud and yelling reputation of its male coaches.
In recent years however, this once exclusively male sport, has opened its doors to women.
Sam Rapoport is the Senior Director at the NFL, and is the woman behind these incredible developments within the league. She has worked tirelessly to ensure that opportunities exist for women to take roles in areas such as coaching, scouting and operations:
“My role at the NFL is to oversee the pipeline programming aimed at creating opportunities for diverse candidates to enter into NFL football operations positions.”
The aim of Sam’s work is to “normalise diverse candidates” ensuring that positions within clubs are open to ‘the best person’ and welcome knowledgeable and passionate people, no matter there gender or background.
In 2017, the NFL launched the Women’s Careers In Football Forum, to educate and prepare women for positions in football operations, including coaching, officiating and scouting, through panel discussions, presentations and on-field clinics and demonstrations. Participants interact with general managers, head coaches and club executives in the NFL and college football programs.
The forum is now an annual event that helps attendees grow their own networks and learn industry insights. The two day event includes panel discussions, presentations and breakout sessions. Participants get an exclusive look into coaching, strength and conditioning, player personnel, team operations, football administration, research and strategy, video and equipment.
The FCN has interviewed a number of women who have been or are coaching in the NFL, and all attributed part of their success in the league with their attendance of the Women’s Forum.
“I attended the NFL Careers Forum which was put on during the Women’s World Football Games. It had some amazing speakers including Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers Head Coach), Scott Pioli (Assistant GM at the Falcons) and Kim Pegula (Owner of the Buffalo Bills). I had the privilege to talk to a few of these people, but more importantly, I was able to be directed to the Bill Walsh Diversity Fellowship – essentially it is a Gateway into getting into the NFL.”
Phoebe Schecter – intern at the Buffalo Bills
Sam Rapoport continues her work throughout 2019 and beyond, with incredible progress, now having welcomed 78 women who have secured roles within football since it’s launch.
“We created this programming based on the feedback that we got from head coaches and general mangers about their desire to diversify the pipeline into football operations. The role that the league office plays is to help to provide candidates and then get those candidates in-front of the head coaches and general managers who could potentially gain opportunities within the NFL. But the actual hiring and opportunities are all credited to the Head Coaches and General Managers who are working really hard to put women and people of colour in those positions.”
Find out how the Buffalo Bills are embracing their diverse coaching staff: CLICK HERE