The Washington Wizards are one of seven teams looking for a new head coach. One of the bigger questions around the search is whether they will be the first or among the first group of team(s) that hire(s) a female head coach. San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon, South Carolina and USA Basketball women’s team head coach Dawn Staley, Duke women’s team head coach Kara Lawson and New Orleans Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon are all among the female coaches linked to vacancies, though none are linked to the Wizards.
From looking at the comments alone in a post earlier this week, it seems that the consensus is that Denver Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld, Jr. should get the closest look (or be the head coach), or that the team should look far away from him. And not too many were in favor of any female coach. These are all anecdotes and another company did a survey to see how much in favor NBA fans would be of a female head coach.
SportsBettingDime.com, ran a survey where the results were published last April where 1,586 NBA and NFL fans were surveyed for their opinions on a female head coach. I’ll focus just on the NBA. Among the group of people, 63 said they were Wizards fans, which was 18th largest among the fanbases. The team with the largest fanbase was the Los Angeles Lakers with 195. It appears that fans can say they are fans of multiple teams.
According to that study, 93 percent of fans overall (NBA and NFL) were supportive of a female head coach and 70.3 percent of fans would be more likely to support a female head coach if their favorite player supported the move. For the NBA, these figures were a bit higher, where 94 percent of fans were supportive of a female head coach and 72.7 percent of fans would be more likely to support one if their favorite player supported it.
I assume that these figures wouldn’t change wildly between last April when the Wizards were winning most of their games en-route to the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
So how did the Wizards respondents fare against the NBA group? There is only one stat that describes that, namely how many would support a female head coach. In the data, 93.3 percent said they would support a female head coach. That’s slightly below the average, but among all 30 teams’ respondents, Wizards fans were 20th in the league in support of a female head coach.
The team with the most support was the Philadelphia 76ers with 98.6 percent, who also had 63 respondents and the least was the Houston Rockets with 79.5 percent (!), but there were only 40 respondents.
Is there anything to gather from this insight? Yes, and it’s that the vast majority of Wizards and NBA fans would support a female head coach, if it was for an unspecific team. Given the growing number of female assistants in the league, this is not surprising and a good thing.
But I think the first question would have been better framed if respondents were specifically asked, “Would you support a female head coach for your favorite NBA team?” That may skew the results up or down, depending on the team’s situation. I also think the end of the regular season would have been a better time to ask this question to NBA fans because there were no vacancies in April. Now there are.
This is just the data from one site, so would you support someone like Hammon, Staley, Lawson or Weatherspoon as the Wizards’ head coach? Would you support her more if key players like Bradley Beal and/or Russell Westbrook publicly say so? Let us know in the comments below.