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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, March 09, 2018

HS Hoops: Why Are There So Few Minority Basketball Coaches in District XI?

Toomey Anderson and the "awesome"belt
I've told you before that I'm just a basketball fan. But Toomey Anderson, a former Parkland and Muhlenberg standout, is the Lehigh Valley's Ambassador of Basketball. During this past season, I've seen him everywhere, #alwayswatching. He makes the sport even more fun with great pictures of "celebrities in attendance" and game videos on his LVBR twitter feed. As if that were not enough, he also hosts The Awesome Show to promote the sport. His guestlist has included numerous coaches like Randy Atiyeh, players and the Lehigh Valley Dean of Sportswriting, Keith Groller.

One of the segments on his show is "What's up with Dat?", in which he has been a strong advocate of making high school basketball games something that involves all the students. He wants to see bands in the gym and a wild student section.

But he has another observation, and it's more serious. He notes that of 108 boys and girls teams in District XI, there are only seven minority head coaches. Ed Jennings, who runs the SCBL program, has observed that this exclusion carries over to the referees, too. This is no knock on the many excellent basketball coaches who really look out for their players, like Doug Snyder at William Allen. But as positions open up, there is an overflowing talent pool of minority basketball coaches that deserve consideration.

Morning Call senior sportswriter Keith Groller just highlighted Dr. Shawn Munford, the head coach of the East Stroudsburg South Cavaliers and 6A District XI champs. He grew up in a single-parent home in Philly, and though he at one time played professional basketball, he went on to earn his physics PhD and is now a professor. But he is also a life coach,and not just a basketball coach.

He represents a class of coaches, black and white, who really look out for the kids who play for them.


Anonymous said...

Do you propose something similar to the NFLs Rooney Rule? Seems fair.

Anonymous said...

From my minimal experience at the youth basketball level, I think minority coaches and refs are fairly well represented in my opinion. This is purely at the Community Basketball League and the AAU program level. At the District XI level, it would be interesting to see how long certain coaches have been in place and who they replaced. Add to that, the tendency for school AD's to go with who they know or previous experience and you end up getting a lot of recycled hires.

Lets also be honest about why they get recycled - it takes a very rare mix of individual traits to be a successful high school program coach, obviously you want someone who can X and O on game day, but they also have to have the time and personal bandwidth to dedicate the HOURS and nights involved with games, practices, meetings, and off season stuff, and most importantly patience and politics of dealing with player egos and worse the parents of the players too.

As an Athletic Director, when faced with a choice of hiring someone to coach a team anyone who has done it before is going to have a significant advantage over a newbie. Not saying that's always the best path to take, but generally the AD is looking for the least amount of headaches and risk.

Anonymous said...

There are no legal restrictions preventing members of minority groups from applying. Of course, all candidate need to be qualified, able to pass background checks, and be seen as the kind of coach each program is looking for. For instance, a local guy/gal, an offensive or defensive game plan, years of experience, etc.

There's is also the possibility the candidate chosen is someone who has a teaching certificate in a desired subject and will be a DAILY presence within the school building all year round.

Let's not make this another racial quota issue.

Anonymous said...

Trowing gang signs?

Anonymous said...

Maybe none applied for the job? Someone should not get the job regardless of the skin color

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:21, It is difficult to find a person with the qualities you describe, minority or not. I also agree there is no shortage of minority representation in the AAU and youth sports. But there are minorities who have those qualities, and they are passed over.

I won't presume to tell you anything because you understand this topic better than I. But do yourself a favor and check out Toomey's FB post on the topic. Some of the people who participate in that discussion are themselves coaches here in the LV.


Bernie O'Hare said...

"Let's not make this another racial quota issue."

It already appears to be a racial discrimination issue. Seven minority coaches for 108 teams? No one is calling for a quota.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Do you propose something similar to the NFLs Rooney Rule? Seems fair."

I wasn't proposing anything, but a Rooney Rule seems very fair. It does not impose a quota, but does impose a requirement that minority candidates be interviewed. And don't get me wrong. The majority coaches I know are excellent and all about the kids, even if it means losing.

Let me give an example. We played Northampton in the playoffs. One of their guys was benched and not allowed to play because he had argued with a ref in a previous game. The coaches thought it was more important to teach a lesson than to win. That's class.

Take a look at Toomey as an example. He has no interest in coaching and what he does to energize interest is far beyond what a coach could do. He was an excellent player at Parkland and Muhlenberg. He is a teacher. He understands the kids. He never got an interview anywhere despite his obvious qualifications.

I don't know if I would impose an absolute rule, which might be resented and backfire, but ADs should be encouraged to expand their pool of candidates.

Anonymous said...

Such bullshit. Just because you like to play at being all ghetto you make something out of nothing., Maybe the guy is a pain in the ass and maybe that is why he won't get hired. Professional perpetual victim. Hell pretty soon you will be walking around the courthouse in baggy half pants with a colored bandana around your head screaming out holla!!

Anonymous said...

The facts may be true about a lack of minority coaches, but trying to pinpoint the reason is a tougher task. You can't automatically assume that racism is an issue just like you can't assume that "they" aren't applying for such positions. There just might not be a story here. But if there were, dedicated journalism would be a necessity. I know many coaches, and the qualities that are needed to be successful have nothing to do with race. Keith's article was great and a true conversation starter.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:01, Let's analyze your comment, shall we? I think it opens a window to good discussion.

The facts may be true? Facts are facts, and of necessity they are true. And in this case, the fact is that there are very few minority coaches. You conceded that this "may" be true. This is what some extremely knowledgeable people like Toomey and Ed Jennings have to say. I suggest that because you don't want it to be true, you only say it "may" be true.

After this concession that really is not a concession at all, you go on to assert that the dearth of minority coaches may have nothing to do with racism. Who said that it did? I was pointing to reality. The reason for this reality has not been established.

Could it just be that there is a lack of qualified people among minorities? That might explain the reason for the low number of minority school teachers, but coaches do not have to be and sometimes are not teachers. I myself would prefer to see a coach in that capacity but this should not be a deal killer. If an AD is only willing to consider teachers, that does eliminate many minorities. There are good reasons for wanting only teachers bc they have degrees in education and go thru periodic background checks. I would insist on a college degree and would only select coaches who themselves were players in high school and college.

You go on to assert even further that this may not be a story. Sorry , but when the percentage of minority coaches is that low, that's a story. The only reason it is not being reported is because there are very few reporters. They miss a lot. Look how long it took them to catch onto Fed Ed. The papers have even stopped writing about individual games, to say nothing of the coaches. There are too few of them to cover everything. It's really a shame. I saw a former editor at a game last night. His daughter is an amazing three-sport athlete. Imagine he stories he could tell if he were still working! Quite a few editors tell me they started by covering sports. Abnd truthfully, the sports stories are the best, whether it is Brad Wilson or Keith Groller. This is bc sportswriters are not hung up on being impartial. They are hung upon telling the truth as they see it. In any event, this lack of coverage has resulted in an atmosphere in which many bad things can happen and no one will know. A lack of minority coaches is minor in comparison to many other problems.

I agree that the qualities that make a great coach have nothing to do with one's race. So that's why there should be more minority coaches.