The Rooney Rule and Brian Flores

Rooney Rule

Brian Flores is the former head coach of the Miami Dolphins and former assistant coach of the New England Patriots. He is now suing the National Football League because of a sham interview he endured. There’s a lot of talk of racism and discrimination on one side of the conversation and a lot of, frankly, racism and white privilege on the other side.

What I’d like to talk about today is the Rooney Rule that engendered this entire controversy. The rule originated in 2003 after a statistical analysis of head coaches in the NFL proved that black coaches won a higher percentage of their games and yet were fired more frequently. That’s numbers talking, not anyone’s opinion.

What is the Rooney Rule?

The Rooney rule makes it mandatory for an NFL team to interview minority candidates for the head coach position. It doesn’t require a minority be hired for the job, just interviewed. There are a few exceptions but basically it just means minority coaches must be at least interviewed before a hiring decision can be made.

The object of the rule is to force teams to, at a minimum, listen to minority coaches and their plans. It’s an interesting plan with a valid idea behind it. I’ve often heard people who are generally racist, homophobic, antisemitic, or otherwise inclined defend their position with the idea they have friends in the category they despise.

The point being that if you meet someone as an individual, it becomes much more likely you will become friends with that person. Whereas, if you avoid ever meeting someone of the discriminated against class, you never get to know any of them. Not to say a person is not a racist because they know a black guy, it’s just more likely she or he become less racist.

Did the Rooney Rule Work?

From a statistical point of view, the Rooney Rule appears to work fairly well. The number of minority coaches in the league jumped dramatically after implementation and generally remains higher than numbers before.

That being said, what didn’t happen is impossible to prove. Perhaps more minority candidates might have been hired if the rule didn’t exist. Perhaps less. It’s impossible to say. Still, statistics bear out the idea that it works.

The Flores Situation

A situation regarding the New York Giant’s quest for a new head coach brought question to the implementation of the rule. Team officials interviewed Brian Daboll for the job and scheduled an interview with Brian Flores the next week. Apparently, they decided, after the interview with Daboll, to hire him. The rule means they cannot do so immediately, they must interview a minority candidate like Flores first.

Someone in the Giant’s organization told a mutual friend of Daboll and Flores, Bill Belichick, of their plans to hire Daboll. Belichick then sent a congratulatory message to who he thought was Daboll but was actually Flores. Flores is now suing the league for failure to implement the Rooney rule and is also personally and publicly humiliated.

My Take on the Situation

Having spent all this time explaining the Rooney Rule and the Flores situation, now I finally get to my point. The Rooney rule is written in such a way as to exempt NFL decision makers from actually having to consider a minority candidate. All they have to do is pretend to do so. And they can’t even manage that!

Just out of courtesy alone, human decency even, the Giant’s management team should not tell anyone their decision until after all interviews are completed. You never know when the next candidate is going be superior. It’s rude, it’s cruel, and I can completely understand why Flores is furious. I’d be angry also and, don’t even try to deny it, so would you.

I don’t see racism here so much as stupidity and cruelty. I’m not sure the lawsuit is going to go anywhere but hopefully NFL executives will learn to keep their yaps shut in the future.

As to the Rooney Rule itself. I actually think it’s about as well-written and implemented a minority hiring a rule as possible. There is no doubt racism in hiring exists. The problem with quotas is that they create enormous resentment, companies find a million ways to get around them, and the courts tend to narrow their implementation.

Conclusion

The Rooney Rule is fine. The NFL actually did a pretty decent job of creating an impactful rule without tying anyone’s hands, breaking any laws, or being discriminatory itself. As for the Giants? Morons.

Tom Liberman

Geno Auriemma wants Accountability

Geno Auriemma

The Transfer Portal

The NCAA changed their Transfer Portal rule last year and Geno Auriemma, head coach of the perennial women’s college basketball powerhouse University of Connecticut, doesn’t like it.

Prior to this season, if a player wanted to move from one school to another, she or he had to sit out an entire season of play. This is an extraordinary punishment considering the athletic lives of such players are very short and earning potential for even a single season is millions of dollars.

Why Geno is Angry

Geno Auriemma is mad because some of the players he recruited left and their ability to continue to do so is now significantly easier. Geno Auriemma has some telling quotes in the story.

In regards to an athlete leaving a program he says, A lot of these kids are delusional. They have so many voices in their ear.

I suppose you know better what the athlete should do? You should be in charge of the decision instead of them, their parents? Can you get any more condescending?

There’s something wrong with the entitlement that happens to exist today, and there’s something wrong with this idea of student-athlete welfare, that everything should be done to accommodate the student-athlete with no regard whatsoever to the coaches who work their ass off to recruit these kids in the first place, work with them, help them get better, make them the player that they are, and then they up and leave with no consequences whatsoever.

Entitlement? Look in the mirror Geno Auriemma. Look in the mirror. You work hard? So do those kids. How often do coaches up and leave for a new contract at a different school without consequences? Leaving the athletes they recruited behind? What’s good for you isn’t good for anyone else?

Those kids have people whispering in their ears? So do you! The people who pay you millions of dollars to coach, the apparel companies that pay your school to have those kids wear their jerseys. What do those kids get paid for all of this? You are the best one to look out for their interests? No, you are the best one to look out for your own interests and the same goes for them.

If we as coaches just call a kid in and say, ‘Look, I thought you’d be a lot better than this, so I’m taking away your scholarship’, we would get crucified.

That’s exactly the way it was until the NCAA changed the rules thanks to a plethora of lawsuits. In the past Geno Auriemma could simply take away a scholarship for exactly that reason but I didn’t hear him up in arms talking about entitlement back then, about the horrors of such a practice.

Conclusion

Kids sometimes make bad decisions; I don’t deny it. Some will want to transfer when it might well be best to stay at the original school. That being said, I don’t want some sanctimonious adult telling young athletes what to do while, at the same time, taking millions of dollars to further the coach’s career. Talk about conflict of interest.

Geno Auriemma is way out of line.

Tom Liberman

Why you Should Ignore Rules and Procedures

Slavish Insistence on Following RulesI’m a big fan of rules and procedures. I’m rather a pest in the office when it comes to such things. Well written procedures are extremely useful in running an efficient operation. There are any number of ways to do something but generally one method has emerged as the best. When rules and procedures are not followed there are often problems.

I’m a proponent of stop-signs and no right hand turn on red regulations at particular intersections. There are generally good reasons for these things and following the rules and regulations is a benefit for everyone. When people stop following the rules things can become chaotic, inefficient, and error-prone.

So, why am I writing about ignoring rules and procedures? Because rules and procedures don’t exist without purpose. They are merely an attempt to codify a method by which things are most efficiently done and to prevent mistakes and even tragedy. If we do not understand the purpose of rules and procedures and follow them slavishly under all circumstances then we not only undermine efficiency and safety but we give up our freedom.

This is the world of zero-tolerance. This is a world bereft of personal responsibility. This is a world where creativity is crushed and mindless obligation to duty praised.

In my office we have a lot of computer equipment. This equipment ends up coming into the office and going out of the office. It moves from location to location in our office. It is very easy to lose track of this equipment and then there is a problem. Projectors go missing, laptops go missing, servers go missing. These things cost a lot of money and where there is inadequate tracking there is the opportunity for theft.

I teach training classes and we have a group of machines that have Microsoft Office 2007 on them and another with Office 2010. This week I have a very small class, two students, for Office 2007 followed immediately by a very large class for 2010.

The room where I teach is generally setup for Office 2010 with thirteen machines. For the small class I had to get three (one for the instructor) computers from our lockup and put them in the room. I wrote down the asset tag numbers for these computers and notified the appropriate person that they had been moved.

I was asked what happened to the three machines that had been removed, did they go back into lockup? No, I just stashed them behind my podium as the next day I’d be returning them to their original station.

That’s not the procedure I was told.

It’s not a big deal but this what I’m getting at. I wasn’t punished, no one is in trouble. Those three machines were in the room, stayed in the room, and will be replaced in their original position after being displaced for about 48 hours. The purpose of the procedure was to make sure they weren’t misplaced. It is my assertion that there was no danger of that in this case, and therefore the procedures can safely be ignored. It was agreed I was correct and the tracking was not performed on those three machines.

This is a reasonable outcome. The procedure didn’t make sense in this particular case. If we had followed procedure it would have taken time for me to note the three moved machines and taken time for the tracking person to fill out the appropriate forms in SharePoint both “moving” from the room and the back into the same place. This would have been a waste of time with no gain. Not a huge thing but an effort nonetheless.

This is the sort of slavish reliance on regulation that a fearful society embraces, that a tyrant embraces. This is a police officer giving you a ticket for an illegal right-hand turn on red early on a Sunday morning when there is no traffic for miles. This is a student suspended from school for cutting a cookie into the shape of a firearm. This is a society afraid of personal responsibility.

It’s a recipe for tyranny and I don’t like it, much though I love rules and regulations.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Ideology
Current Release: The Spear of the Hunt
Next Release: The Broken Throne

Tiger Woods – Ball Moved Rule

Tiger Woods Ball MoveProfessional Golf has a lot of rules and, prior to cameras being pointed at virtually every shot, it was largely up to players to report violations on their own.

In recent years fans carefully watching ever-present video have taken to calling in what they perceive as violations. That has happened again to Tiger Woods for moving a ball while removing a loose impediment. The rule is here.

I’m not against the enforcement of rules via video replay and I think making a correct decision is paramount. What I am against is overly picky enforcement of rules against what is not clearly a violation. I think the benefit of the doubt generally needs to be that no violation has occurred unless it clearly has happened.

I’m also against enforcement of rules against one player or team when the same is not done for everyone in the game. In this case Woods is clearly subject to more scrutiny because of both his popularity and unpopularity. The camera is on every single shot he makes whereas other players are not subject to the same level of observation.

In the incident in question the ball seems to wiggle but not actually change position. The rule states that if a ball moves it must be replaced in its original position. To my way of thinking, and I could be wrong about this interpretation, if the ball can’t be moved back to its starting spot because it’s already there, then perhaps the ball hasn’t really moved at all.

I suppose it could be argued that if a ball rolled several inches and then rolled back to its original location it clearly moved although hasn’t changed position. I would actually argue that the ball hasn’t really moved even under those circumstances. No harm, no foul. It’s in the original spot and hasn’t given the player any advantage.

That being said, my big problem here is the uneven application of video to golfers in a tournament. Popular, or unpopular, players are subject to more scrutiny and that in itself is unfair. Imagine if a baseball game involving my both hugely popular and much hated St. Louis Cardinals had video replay while a game involving the lowly Chicago Cubs did not. Say a similar event happens in both games but the Cardinals are punished because of replay whereas the Cubs are not.

The rules have to apply equally to all contestants otherwise they are not really rules at all. In this case Tiger is being singled out because of the large number of people who want to see his every shot.

I fully understand the desire to get the call right and I support that idea … to a point. When the violation is questionable, when the ruling comes long after an incident which was not ruled a problem at the time, when the player or team is subject to a far higher bar than other players or teams, well, I think this insistence on the letter of the law is petty.

Let them play!

Tell me what you think in the poll!

Tom Liberman

Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for a full length eBook)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt