For too long, professional sports has been a man's game. Sure, there's the WNBA and WTA, but many attempts for women to establish a significant organization in other professional sporting arenas have folded after just a few years. For all the trouble women have had establishing professional sport organizations of their own, there's been difficulty for women breaking into the realm of men's professional sports organizations such as the NFL, the MLB, or the NBA.
This year's NBA Champions, the San Antonio Spurs, are breaking that mold in the best way possible. Representatives from the team announced today that Becky Hammon, an all-star from the WNBA, will be joining the team's staff as an assistant coach—making her the first full-time, paid female assistant coach in NBA history. San Antonio is familiar territory for Hammon, who played with the San Antonio Stars, a WNBA team, for seven years up until her retirement this year. Previously, Lisa Boyer was an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001 to 2002, but it was a watered-down role: she was paid not by the NBA, but by the WNBA team the Cleveland Rockies, and she didn't even accompany the team to away games.
This is coming off last week's news that lawyer Michele Roberts was elected executive director of the NBA. Like Hammon, she's another female first: the first woman to head up an organization comprised of male athletes. It's a huge deal that the NBA is embracing female participation in professional sports on the coaching and management side. Let's hope that the country's other professional sports organizations aren't too far behind.