CSotD: Expanding the Rooney Rule Beyond Football

I really puzzled over where to start today, but settled on Tank McNamara not because of the gag itself, though it made me laugh: My own view is that the Cleveland Browns should put its owners in coaching positions, since they can’t seem to find a qualified coach they want to keep.

But it’s the general hiring of coaches that puts it here, because last night Steve Wyche had a solid interview with Steelers’ owner Art Rooney II about the shortcomings of the “Rooney Rule” which requires team owners to interview a minority for head coaching positions.

I was impressed that the NFL’s own network allowed Wyche to pull no punches, and I liked Rooney’s lack of tap-dancing about how the rule has failed since it was instituted in 2003:

I think over a period of time there were 10 or 12 minority coaches hired. Since then that trend seems to reverse itself particularly in the last few years. We need to study what’s going on and understand better what’s going on and really decide how we improve the situation.

That link is worth following. Wyche is insistent without being rude and Rooney is frank without pretending to have an answer to the basic problem, to wit:

You can require them to interview minorities,
but you can’t tell them who to hire.

Elsewhere in society, the reasoning and the results seem much the same, but without nearly as many Art Rooney II’s trying very hard, however futilely, to fix things.


Pat Bagley decries the lack of female nominees among Oscar contenders, and he’s right that the list doesn’t achieve the same rough 50/50 distribution as our population, though I don’t know if the problem is how many were nominated versus how many were hired.

That is, if 50 percent of producers, directors and screenwriters are women, it’s a pretty poor showing. But I suspect that is not the case.

Perhaps the real issue is who votes for these nominees, and they are nominated from within their categories. That is, directors nominate directors, actors nominate actors, makeup artists nominate makeup artists. You don’t get to choose outside your category.

Which, by the way, is why big epics get more nominations than small pictures: Compare the number of people who put together films like “Braveheart” — which beat “Il Postino” and “Sense and Sensibility” — and “Ben Hur” — which beat “Room at the Top” and “Anatomy of a Murder” — and you don’t need a weatherman to explain why the wind didn’t blow in favor of those smaller, better films.

Not to mention the perennial popularity of movies about the people who make movies, a sure way to put some statuettes on your mantle.

Given all that (and factoring in my oft-expressed disdain for awards in general), I’m not particularly dismayed by this year’s list of nominees, and, yes, “Little Women” did pretty well with six nominations, all but one (best score) for women.

And “Harriet” doubled up on women/minority nominations, with Cynthia Erivo getting nominated for Best Actress as well as a half-credit for the score.

Though the cynic in me also notes that the combined budgets of “Harriet” and “Little Women” were 70% of the budget of “Joker,” which (accordingly?) had the most nominations.


Jeff Stahler, I think, errs in putting these thoughts in a woman’s mouth rather than a man’s, though the idea of “Best Actor” and “Best Actress” (and “Best Supporting” in each) still suggests outmoded standards, particularly since I think most female performers under 50 prefer to be called “actors” and to consign “actress” to the ash heap along with “poetess,” “comedienne” and “heroine.”

But, just as the Rooney Rule can require interviews but can’t require hires, I strongly suspect that tossing all actors into the same Oscar pot would strike a blow for equality without resulting in very many statuettes for female performers.

Men might hope otherwise; women are not so naive.

A fellow painting his face blue, screaming and lopping off people’s heads is going to attract more attention — thus more votes — than a woman pondering a possible marriage to Colonel Brandon, no matter how elegantly and remarkably she ponders.


Which brings us to the award I do consider important and of substance, here dissed for its lack of diversity by Mike Thompson.

It’s the most applicable adaptation of the Rooney Rule, because the hiring committee, such as it is in these days of big donors, interviewed a couple of African-Americans and an Asian-American  but then didn’t “hire” any of them with either donations or poll support.

I don’t have a solution for that, though I’d note that, a few rounds ago, it came down to either a woman or an African-American and the colored guy not only got the nomination but then won the race, while, the last time, it came down to a woman or a Jew.

Speaking of whom, here’s our

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Darrin Bell)


(Jack Ohman)

As for the past week, I began by agreeing with Bell and ended agreeing with Ohman.

I’ve lived adjacent to Vermont since Bernie was mayor of Burlington, except for a year and a half  in Maine. Our states up here aren’t so large that we don’t see what’s going on next door, and, being mostly up in the woods not down in the city, I’m more familiar with Bernie than I am with most of my own leaders.

This thing may have started as a bit of partisan poison, but Warren’s response has me thinking that, as Ohman suggests, Bernie didn’t say it right, she took it wrong and this is more of a romcom misunderstanding than anything out of “Advise and Consent.” (Which great film, by the way, didn’t win a goddam thing.)


Well, whatever whoever said, we need drama. Pearls hopes we’ll tire of it, but I’m doubtful.

No music today. Instead, for those who didn’t click the Rooney link before, here it is again, to ponder, and to apply to far more than football or movies.

When the jocks are smarter than the politicians, we’re in trouble.

4 thoughts on “CSotD: Expanding the Rooney Rule Beyond Football

  1. As usual, the thing I find somewhat (only somewhat, you understand) surprising is that when anyone talks about “diversity”, it means using only the colour of one’s skin or one’s ethnic heritage as a barometer. God forbid we have any of those LGBTQ people consider part of the “diversity” discussion — probably because everyone already thinks Hollywood is loaded with gays and lesbians and therefore who needs to pay attention to their stories….. 🙂

  2. I’m not sure whose fault it is that the debate only had six white people. There were two black people in the race, Harris and Booker (and I liked both of them), but neither of them garnered much support from whites or blacks.

    The polling indicated that a plurality of blacks are supporting Biden, which I don’t understand, but it’s hard to know how to respond to people saying that the Democratic Party needs to value our black voters (which is absolutely true), when the largest chunk of black voters prefer the old, boring, white moderate who self-destructed every time he ran for president in the past.

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