By Jerry R. Caldwell, Esq., an Atlanta-based attorney and former Georgia Tech football player. Jerry specializes in Business Law, Litigation, Trademarks, and Sports & Entertainment Law. Follow him @JerryRCaldwell.
Condoleezza Rice’s recent appointment as a member of the new College Football Playoff Selection Committee has become a highly debated issue. This is evidenced by the quotes and sound bites of one of the best players to ever play college football, ESPN College Football Analyst, David Pollack and legendary football coach, Pat Dye.
As a former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket football player, I have witnessed the greatness of David Pollack on the gridiron on many occasions. However, his latest comments show he could not have been more off base regarding Condoleezza Rice’s appointment to the selection committee.
During a recent appearance as a college football analyst on ESPN’s College Game Day, David Pollack essentially stated that “women shouldn’t be allowed in football.” Shortly thereafter, he retreated to today’s proverbial PR machine, Twitter, to recant and redefine his position. Lo and behold, it was the same message presented with different words:
“I want people on the committee that eat, sleep & breathe college football during the season. It has nothing to do with male or female.”
Now despite this attempt at sending an encrypted, “what I meant to say” message, Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State amongst other superlatives, wouldn’t have to work too hard to decipher its true sexism-tinged meaning.
Then, none other than the great Pat Dye expressed similar sentiment about Ms. Rice’s selection.
“All she knows about football is what somebody told her,” Dye told the WJOX morning show, The Opening Drive, “Or what she read in a book, or what she saw on television.”
My issue does not lie with the fact that David Pollack or Coach Dye expressed their personal opinions, because it is America and we are all entitled to our opinions. What was troubling and disturbing to me is the rationale on which their opinions seem to be based.
We have watched many individuals come into college and professional sports through experience, education, or nepotism. Some successful, some not. However, basing one’s success or ability to perform on whether or not they “played the sport” is about as smart as saying a woman can’t dunk a basketball because she is a girl. Ask Britney Griner, Lisa Leslie, or Candace Parker how that turned out!
Based upon Pollack and Coach Dye’s logic, Mel Kiper, NFL Draft Analyst, Howie Roseman, General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, and scores of player agents and coaches only know about football from what they have read, heard, or saw on television.
Furthermore, many “men” who eat, breathe, and sleep football don’t know what the hell they are doing, which is evidenced by repeated “bust” draft choices or key personnel decisions in college and professional sports. Nonetheless, neither Mr. Pollack nor Coach Dye have chosen to scream “flag on the play” in those instances. Why is that the case? Intelligent minds would like to know, with the operative word being “Intelligent.”
Ms. Rice has shown that she possesses quality leadership skills, decisive decision making abilities and like many of her male counterparts, an education that allows her to succeed in just about any arena. She will be surrounded by some of the greatest minds in college football such as Tom Osborne, Barry Alvarez, and Archie Manning to name a few, on this committee. It is not like she will be tasked with the responsibility to make a decision to ultimately crown the nation’s best college football team (she couldn’t do any worse than the BCS system) on her own. It’s crazy to think that she will be ill-equipped simply because she has never played the game of football.
It is 2013, and our country has seen a great deal of CHANGE much to the dismay of “old thinkers and thinking.” Let’s focus on inclusion rather than exclusion because quite frankly I’m sure “we” can all learn from Ms. Rice whether we read something that she has written, watched her on television, or have been told about just how great she really is!