If you’ve just tuned in, our debate is currently centered around the following question: Why are there not more female referees, coaches or general managers in the NBA?
And relatedly: Is it legit to criticize a higher-ed diversity institution’s decision to award the league an “A” rating?
Paolo, the “missing truths” that you point out are largely irrelevant, or only serve to illustrate the depth of the problem. I’ll start with your mention of men’s superior athletic capabilities. This may indeed be a reality, but by no means does it follow that men thus make better cops and soldiers. Brute strength may contribute to success in such positions, but there are other, equally important attributes: intelligence, strategic thinking, quick wits, a critical eye are a few that come to mind. It should go without saying that this is true of referees, coaches and general managers as well (these positions actually require little-to-no athleticism, but a lot of analytic and communicative skills).
There’s a lot of literature on how men and women think differently, by way of both genetics and sociology (see, for instance, the debate over women’s jurisprudence). Sports teams spend enormous amounts of energy exploring tiny potential competitive advantages. To the extent that we can agree that women bring different skills to the table, it seems obvious that involving them in a team’s strategic thinking stands to be an advantage. It seems equally obvious that a woman is bound to be the most qualified person for positions that require such diverse skill sets at least some of the time.
A quick digression: It’s worth exploring more carefully how we, as a society, create narratives about what makes for a competitive advantage, and how gender plays into that. This mainstream notion of female competitive inferiority isn’t limited to athleticism — it also figures prominently in how we think about female politicians (Hillary comes to mind: will she make the tough decisions when it counts? Can she stand up to the mockery of sexist foreign officials?), stock brokers, lawyers…Of course, these narratives also influence women’s career decisions. I’ll keep this can of worms closed for now.
Returning to the substance of your response: I’m equally put off by the experience argument, and I think a single example is suffice to counter it: Nancy Lieberman is a proven champion at every level of hoops, and she’s played at high levels with men. Stan Van Gundy, on the other hand, played a little ball in college. Yet it’s still seen as roof-shattering progress when Lieberman manages to earn the respect of a couple D-Leagers. I’m not at all sold that the NBA hires, as you posit, “based on quality alone.”
To return to your first point: Yes, Christian white males generally dominate positions of power. Of course this isn’t just an NBA issue. My problem here is that a higher-ed institution tasked with advocating diversity is handing out an “A” to a league that is still a boys’ club. In theory, this grade should have some weight, signifying that this organization is an exemplar in a fucked-up world; that we’ve achieved our goals of equality. This is not the case. Not even close. It’s bullshit, and I insist on holding both academia and professional sports to a higher standard.