The cognitive gap in coaching

SJWs in the sports media are perturbed that the new emphasis on offense in the NFL is rapidly proving to be raciss:

There’s an exceedingly narrow path to becoming an NFL head coach at a young age, as Kingsbury, Kitchens and LaFleur have done, and the first step on the drawbridge—the prerequisite—is privilege. That necessarily leaves a number of boys, white and black, on the outside looking in. At an immediate deficit are those from single-parent homes, those whose fathers aren’t coaches, those who aren’t surrounded by advocates and resources and examples of professional success in close proximity.

As a result, the game suffers. When the pool of candidates in any field is narrowed by pedigree, connections and nepotism, many of the best potential candidates are never seeing the light of day.

The statistics tell us the boys in this group are disproportionately children of color, and the history tells us that America’s legacy of chattel slavery, Jim Crow, the War on Drugs, and every other manifestation of systemic oppression of African-Americans in this country is a direct influence on the station of the typical black child in America.

This is only part of the problem, of course. The argument can be made that white coaches may appeal more to predominantly white decision-makers, whether those decisions are conscious or unconscious, the result of intentional racial bias or bias unknown to the boss himself. An equally compelling argument could be made that black coaching candidates are held to higher standards than white candidates.

The reality is that as the complexity of offenses grows, the cognitive floor required for coaches and offensive coordinators rises as well. This is going to make it more and more difficult for black coaches, black coordinators, and even black quarterbacks, to be successful, no matter how much affirmative action is imposed in the sacred name of Rooney. It’s not an accident that Bill Belichick has been the most successful coach of the last 20 years, because he is also the smartest and most innovative coach of the last 20 years. And the smarter the coach is, the smarter he is comfortable having his coordinators, his assistants, and his players be.

In the current era of NFL football, intelligence is increasingly necessary for success in order to counteract the exceptional athleticism that is now available to every team. The athletic arms race has resulted in near-equality across the league, so schematics, pattern recognition, and rapid decision-making has risen to the fore.

Former Vikings coach Denny Green was an excellent example of a good coach with cognitive limitations that put a ceiling on his success. He was a smart, hard-working man who was well-liked by his players and by the public. No Vikings fan will ever forget his “leather is sexy” commercial for Wilson’s. He created the now-ubiquitous Tuesday charity routine that most teams now embrace. He was always prepared, he did a very good job of building and drilling a team, and he was usually outcoached in the playoffs by smarter coaches who were more capable of quickly outthinking and making in-game adjustments. He was who we thought he was and we liked him for it anyways.

The SJWs are in a catch-22 here. They can try to create a false narrative that black coaching candidates are held to higher standards than white candidates, but the observable reality is that black coaches are held to lower standards than white coaches. No white coach was going to be given two seasons to go 1-31 without losing his job like Hue Jackson was. Few white coaches as mediocre as Marv Lewis are permitted to hold onto their job for 16 years with a .504 winning percentage while going winless in the postseason.

Given the offense-heavy rules of the game and the increasing cognitive burden it imposes on coaches, quarterbacks, and offensive players, the more blacks are pushed into those positions, the more they are going to very visibly fail. The irony is that in order to have a cognitively-limited black quarterback succeed in the NFL these days, the more likely it is that a team will require a white coach who is more intelligent than his peers.

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